Friday, October 9, 2015

Mars once had stable, liquid water lakes

Gale Crater, NASA image.

Remote observational data suggest that large bodies of standing water existed on the surface of Mars in its early history. This would have required a much wetter climate than that of the present, implying greater availability of water on a global basis and enhanced potential for global habitability.

Co-authors include Roger Wiens, Space Remote Sensing, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and David Vaniman, retired LANL scientist.

Our observations suggest that individual lakes were stable on the ancient surface of Mars for 100 to 10,000 years, a minimum duration when each lake was stable both thermally (as liquid water) and in terms of mass balance. (Full Story)

Also from KRQE-TV

Mars water discovery's New Mexico connection

Roger Wiens, LANL photo.

This week’s announcement of the discovery of flowing water on Mars has thrilled space-lovers world-wide. And this discovery has a New Mexico connection. Roger Wiens leads a team at Los Alamos National Lab that developed ChemCam, an instrument aboard Curiosity that allows the rover to rapidly identify what Martian rocks and soil are made of. Roger and his team are hard at work on an even more powerful instrument, the SuperCam, to be installed on a rover that will be launched in 2020. (Listen Here)

Scientists in New Mexico confirm droughts kill large trees first

Nathan McDowell, LANL image.

After studying records of forests across the world, researchers in New Mexico have confirmed a long-held hypothesis among scientists that larger trees are the first ones to die during droughts.

“Old trees, big trees, do a lot of the heavy lifting for ecosystems in many ways,” said study co-author Nate McDowell, a forest ecologist and plant physiologist for Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

Alternative energy key to a greener future

Rod Borup, left, and David Langlois simulate drive cycles on a fuel cell test station, LANL image.

Los Alamos National Laboratory is leading a Department of Energy - Fuel Cells Technologies Office-funded project to enhance the performance and durability of polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) fuel cells, while simultaneously reducing their cost.

“The cost and durability of current PEM fuel cells is a major barrier to their commercial use for stationary or transportation power generation,” said Rod Borup, director for the five-institution fuel cell consortium. (Full Story)

Also from the Los Alamos Daily Post

First stars may lurk in our galactic neighborhood

Some very old stars in the Milky Way, such as HE 0107-5240 (arrow), might be first-generation stars in disguise.

They’re hiding among us. Some of the first stars to appear in the universe might still be lurking in the Milky Way, masked by nearly 13 billion years of cosmic pollution.

Computer simulations indicate that relatively lightweight first-generation stars might be scattered throughout the galaxy. Observations have yet to turn up any but that’s because exposure to interstellar dust and gas make the few remaining first stars look younger than they are, Jarrett Johnson, an astronomer at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, suggests in the Nov. 1 Monthly Notices of the Royal Astronomical Society. (Full Story)

New Mexico scientist says ‘The Martian’ mostly accurate

Nina Lanza, LANL photo.

Like thousands around the country, Nina Lanza was thrilled to get her ticket to see box office hit “The Martian” this weekend.

Lanza, a staff scientist at the Los Alamos National Lab who studies Mars, was interested to see how much the movie would get right when it comes to the science. Lanza works on the ChemCam team. ChemCam is a laser instrument on board the Curiosity rover. (Full Story)

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