Friday, February 5, 2016

Confessions of a meteorite hunter

Lanza poses with a meteorite find. Photo by
Constantine Tsang.

Nina Lanza knows space rocks. In her day job as a staff scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory, she operates the Curiosity Rover’s ChemCam, using a rock-vaporizing laser to analyze the Martian surface. But as of last week, Lanza was having a very different kind of encounter with space rocks: She was picking them up off of the Antarctic ice. For the past six weeks, Lanza has been a rookie member of the ANSMET (the Antarctic Search for Meteorites) 2015-2016 field team. (Full story)

New imaging system for steady-state fusion

Glen Wurden in the stellarator’s vacuum vessel.
LANL photo.

Scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory have designed new imaging systems which will help physicists get detailed insights into the German stellarator, Wendelstein 7-X.

Glen Wurden, of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Plasma Physics group, began the development and installation of imaging systems while the W7-X was still being built. The imaging systems will study plasma edge effects and interactions within the armored walls of the three-dimensional magnetic geometries in the machine. (Full story)

Exploring inertial confinement fusion turbulence

Mounting a NIF target, LLNL photo.

Scientists from Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) are leading an experimental campaign on the National Ignition Facility (NIF) designed to further understand turbulent mix models used in both high energy density (HED) and inertial confinement fusion (ICF) experiments. NIF is the only facility with the energy and shot-to-shot reproducibility needed for the experiments.

"We have created a system that reproduces instability features similar to those of traditional hydro experiments that have not previously been seen in HED experiments," said LANL scientist Kirk Flippo, the lead experimental investigator. (Full story)

DOE plan could help provide plutonium for space missions

Plutonium 238, LANL photo.

The space agency uses Pu-238 to fuel many of its deep space missions, including New Horizons, Voyager, the Curiosity rover, and the Mars 2020 rover.

NASA's Outer Planets Assessment Group says the government plans to get better at making plutonium for deep space missions by upgrading a lot of the equipment that's being used to produce Pu-238 at the Los Alamos, Idaho, and Oak Ridge national laboratories. (Full story)

LANL Foundation awards scholarships

LANL Foundation has awarded 17 Northern New Mexicans $1,000 Regional College/Returning Student scholarships from the Los Alamos Employees’ Scholarship Fund, including students from Taos County.

Funding comes from donations made by Los Alamos National Laboratory employees and Los Alamos National Security, LLC. Scholarships are administered by the LANL Foundation with student selection and program oversight provided by an advisory committee of volunteer donors. (Full story)

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