Friday, June 2, 2017

'Halos' on Mars suggest conditions for life lasted longer than thought

Mars Curiosity Rover, NASA image.

Shortly after touching down inside the Red Planet's 96-mile-wide (154 kilometers) Gale Crater in August 2012, NASA's Curiosity rover found evidence that the area had harbored a potentially habitable lake-and-stream system in the ancient past.

"This tells us that the silica found in halos in younger rocks close by was likely remobilized from the old sedimentary rocks by water flowing through the fractures," said study lead author Jens Frydenvang, a scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

Curiosity finds new evidence of long-term groundwater on Mars

Pale zones called halos border bedrock fractures visible in this 2015 NASA image.

Curiosity, our most advanced robotic explorer on Mars, is currently roving around the Gale crater, taking samples and analyzing the composition of crater material. The trusty bot previously revealed that Gale crater was likely once an enormous lake that stretched for miles "with water that we would even have been able to drink," said Jens Frydenvang, a rover-team scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and the University of Copenhagen. (Full Story)

Also in the Los Alamos Monitor

Neutron lifetime measurements take new shape for in situ detection

Pouring ultra-cold neutrons into a Helium-3 counter.

Measurements of the neutron lifetime and accurate simulations of Big Bang Nucleosynthesis (BBN) require old neutrons to be freed from their nuclear cages. Christopher Morris of Los Alamos National Laboratory and author of the new study explained that neutrons have been essentially "fossilized" in the nuclei of atoms. Studying these "fossil particles," then, can provide a glimpse of the earliest moments of the universe's existence.

By the time BBN ended, most neutrons were locked up in the nuclei of helium atoms. Today, almost all matter in the universe is still close to the initial delicate ratio of helium to hydrogen. The ratio is important since it determines how fast our sun burns hydrogen, powering life on earth. (Full Story)

Former Lab SARA student plans career as Army physician

Mullin receives his second lieutenant bars from his parents, Pointer View photo.

During his cadet career, Edmund Patrick Mullin from Cedar Rapids, Iowa (Class of 2017) got the opportunity to work at several hospitals and labs in New Mexico, Germany, Italy and Africa starting in his plebe year.

“During my first semester, academically I wasn’t that great, but I was lucky enough to go to work at Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico in my plebe year [as a Service Academies Research Associate SARA student]. There, I concentrated on lab work. I learned how to make cultures and learned about plutonium pits, (a critical part of nuclear weapons) and went with nuclear engineers to the nuclear labs, which few people actually get to see.” (Full Story)

Three Los Alamos National Laboratory teams receive DOE Secretary Appreciation Awards

Dimitri Kusnezov (NNSA), Sara Del Valle, Paul Fenimore, Kirsten McCabe and Director Charlie McMillan. LANL photo.

Three teams at Los Alamos National Laboratory were the recent recipients of the Department of Energy’s Secretary Appreciation Awards for their exceptional contributions to the agency’s mission.

The Laboratory’s Ebola Task Force, Cancer Moonshot team and Technology Convergence Working Group were all recognized in January by then-Secretary Moniz and again in April during a ceremony hosted by LANL Director Charlie McMillan and Dimitri Kusnezov, NNSA’s chief scientist and senior advisor to the Secretary. (Full Story)

Also from the Daily Post this week:

Students enjoy hands-on science at Bradbury

Taos High School student studies the hands-on Matchstick Puzzle, BMSA photo.

Twenty-two Taos High School students enjoyed the hands-on science activities at the Bradbury Science Museum, thanks to the bus ride paid for by the Bradbury Science Museum Association.

“Getting the bus ride funding made such a huge difference for us!” said Ines Firmo, Taos High School special education science teacher. For some of our students, this is the first time they have been outside of Taos, so I’m really happy that we knew about the BSMA transportation grant so we could give them this experience. Our students are loving all the hands-on science activities here, it’s the best way to learn!” (Full Story)

To subscribe to Los Alamos Press Highlights, please e-mail and include the words subscribe PressHighlights in the body of your email message; to unsubscribe, include unsubscribe PressHighlights.

Please visit us at