Friday, January 9, 2015

Groundbreaking Four Corners methane study among lab’s scientific breakthroughs in 2014

The Four Corners area, in red, left, is a major
U.S. hot spot for methane emissions. (NASA Image)

The methane study was among 12 projects lab officials identified as the top scientific breakthroughs at LANL in 2014. Others included tracking Internet traffic to articles about diseases as an indicator of their spread, creation of simulated human organs that could replace animals in medical tests and a laser chosen for NASA’s 2020 Mars mission, to name a few. (full story)

A variation of this story also appeared in the Farmington Daily Times

There were big discoveries at LANL this year

Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Elena
Guardincerri,right, and Shelby Fellows prepare
a lead hemisphere inside a muon tomography
machine. (LANL photo.)
It was a big year for scientific discoveries at Los Alamos National Laboratory, from transferring foolproof computer encryption techniques to market, to using social media for forecasting diseases, creating a virtual human body that could end animal drug tests and even helping pave the way for human visitation to Mars. (full story)

How NASA’s next Mars rover will hunt for signs of past life

The Mars 2020 Rover. (NASA image)
Mars 2020, as it’s currently called, will have improved instruments over Curiosity. The new rover is heavily based on the Curiosity design, and as with its predecessor it will be able to search for habitable environments.

The seven instruments include SuperCam, designed to sense organic compounds in rocks and regolith through mineralogy and chemical composition analysis. Principal investigator: Roger Wiens, Los Alamos National Laboratory. (full story)

Nuclear plan to blast rogue asteroids

LANL asteroid killer model. (LANL image)
Nuclear weapons could be deployed to protect Earth from incoming asteroids under a plan being drawn up by America’s leading atomic weapons research centre.

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory said last week that the threat of an asteroid impact is far greater than had been realised and research was required to work out the best way to destroy or deflect them.

(Subscription required for full story.)

Space weather: Plasma waves responsible for particle fallout in Earth’s atmosphere

Balloon Array for Radiation belt
Relativistic Electron Losses.
(Dartmouth photo)
The study is the most detailed analysis so far of the link between these waves and the fallout of electrons from the planet's radiation belts. The belts are impacted by fluctuations in "space weather" caused by solar activity that can disrupt GPS satellites, communication systems, power grids and manned space exploration. Co-authors include scientists from Dartmouth, UC Santa Cruz, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and others. (full story)

Los Alamos team explores renewables for Arch Hurley

A study by economists and engineers with the Los Alamos National Laboratory has concluded that the Arch Hurley Conservancy District could finance some improvements with the proceeds of wind and solar energy generation facilities located on district property.

The $60,000 study, financed by a grant from New Mexico Small Business Assistance, represents a possible approach the Arch Hurley district could take to earn some extra spending money, Phillip Box, an Arch Hurley board member, said. (full story)

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