Friday, February 3, 2017

Sixteen years of data about solar weather

The orbital planes in which GPS satellites
travel around Earth, LANL image.

For years, the satellites of America's Global Positioning System have been carrying sensors that measure the weather in space. The information has been kept by the military, which manages the satellites, because solar storms and other space weather can damage satellites.

Today, as the result of an executive order signed last October, the government released 16 years of that space weather data to the public for the first time. "It's really an unprecedented amount of information," explained Marc Kippen, a program manager at Los Alamos National Laboratory, where the sensors were designed. (Full Story)

Los Alamos releases 16 years of GPS solar weather data

The Van Allen belts play a vital role in the planet’s
susceptibility to space weather. NASA Illustration.

It’s not often that a scientific discipline gains a 23-satellite constellation overnight. But today, space weather scientists are reaping such a windfall, as the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico has released 16 years of radiation measurements recorded by GPS satellites.

Although billions of people globally use data from GPS satellites, they remain U.S. military assets. Scientists have long sought the data generated by sensors used to monitor the status of the satellites, which operate in the heavy radiation of medium-Earth orbit and can be vulnerable to solar storms. But few have been allowed to tap this resource. (Full story)

Physicists seek neutron lifetime’s secret

Center for Neutron Research at NIST, NIST photo.

Two methods used for measuring the neutron lifetime disagree, leaving scientists uncertain about the subatomic particle’s true longevity.  One technique involves containing chilled neutrons in a trap, or “bottle,” waiting awhile, and counting the remaining neutrons to determine how many decayed.

One drawback of typical bottle experiments is that neutrons can be absorbed or otherwise lost when they hit the wall of the bottle. So physicist Robert Pattie, of the Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico, and colleagues are working on an updated bottle-style measurement using a magnetic field. (Full Story)

New model predicts once-mysterious chemical reactions

Image from R&A News.

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

“Chemical reactions are the basis of life so predicting what happens during these reactions is of great importance to science and has major implications in innovation, industry and medicine,” said Mark Zammit, a post-doctorate fellow in the Physics and Chemistry of Materials group at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full story)

John Yeager wins Presidential early career award

John Yeager, LANL photo.

John Yeager of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s High Explosives Science and Technology group is a recipient of the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers.

The Presidential Early Career Awards are intended to encourage and accelerate American innovation to grow our economy and tackle our greatest challenges.

“I congratulate these outstanding scientists and engineers on their impactful work,” said President Barack Obama, who gave the award while still in office. (Full story)

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