Friday, July 1, 2016

The rocks on Mars suggest it used to look like Earth. What happened?

Wind ripples in Gale Crater on Mars.  NASA/JPL photo.

A vast shallow sea shimmered beneath oxygen-rich skies. The rocky crests of cliffs and hills reflected in the still water below. The landscape would have been familiar, except for its eerie desolation; nothing on the entire planet moved but the sands shifting in the wind.

This was Mars, circa maybe 4 billion years ago. Or at least, it's one vision of Mars painted by Nina Lanza, a researcher at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. (Full Story)

Mars' atmosphere was likely more oxygen-rich long ago

Mars Curiosity Rover, NASA/JPL photo

Ancient Mars was even more Earth-like than scientists had thought, a new study suggests.

NASA's Curiosity rover has detected high concentrations of manganese oxide minerals in Red Planet rocks, suggesting that the Martian atmosphere contained more oxygen billions of years ago than it does today, researchers said.

"The only ways on Earth that we know how to make these manganese materials involve atmospheric oxygen or microbes," study lead author Nina Lanza, a planetary scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

Mars may have been more like Earth than previously thought

Planetary scientist Nina Lanza, LANL image.

Manganese oxide in Martian rocks was discovered using an instrument called "ChemCam" – developed at the Los Alamos Lab – that sits on top of the NASA rover. The instrument "zaps" Martian rocks and then analyzes their chemical makeup. The instrument on top of the NASA rover has analyzed about 1,500 rock and soil samples from the surface of Mars in the past four years.

"These high-manganese materials can't form without lots of liquid water and strongly oxidizing conditions," said Nina Lanza, the lead author of the study in the AGU journal and a planetary scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

Also reported in the Daily Mail  and Nature World News

How to make fireworks and other explosives safer

Explosives chemist David Chavez ignites a small quantity of Hi-N explosive. LANL image.

This Fourth of July, as you and your family settle on a sandy beach or grassy lawn to watch a fireworks display, you’re probably not thinking about the science behind the explosives you’re witnessing. In fact, you probably are not even thinking of them as explosives. But that’s exactly what they are—and there’s a lot of science that goes into creating that dazzling display of fire and colors. (Full Story)

New model predicts once-mysterious chemical reactions

Mark Zammit, Curtin Photo.

A team of researchers from Los Alamos National Laboratory and Curtin University in Australia developed a theoretical model to forecast the fundamental chemical reactions involving molecular hydrogen (H2), which after many decades and attempts by scientists had remained largely unpredicted and unsolved. (Full Story)

LANL Scientist Robert Atcher Named SNMMI Fellow

Robert Atcher, from the Post.

The Society of Nuclear Medicine and Molecular Imaging has announced the creation of an SNMMI Fellowship recognizing distinguished service to SNMMI as well as exceptional achievement in the field of nuclear medicine and molecular imaging at its 2016 Annual Meeting, June 11-15 in San Diego, Calif.

Robert  Atcher, PhD, MBA, a communication specialist in the Community and Public Affairs Division at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) and the UNM/LANL Professor of Pharmacy in the College of Pharmacy at the University of New Mexico is among the 35 new SNMMI Fellows. (Full Story)

Also from the Daily Post this week:

DOE honors LANL’s small business program

Doug McCrary, second from left holding a plaque, with Chris Fresquez, far left, Jim Carrigan, center, and James Kloeppel, far right, along with John McKinstry of RG Construction Services, second from right. LANL photo

Los Alamos National Laboratory and RG Construction Services LLC in Rio Rancho received the fiscal year 2015 Mentor of the Year and Protégé of the Year awards, respectively, from the Department of Energy.

The awards were announced recently at DOE's Small Business Forum and Expo in Atlanta. The awards recognize the Lab and Los Alamos National Security, LLC's contributions toward DOE's mission and small business goals. (Full Story)

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