Friday, August 1, 2014

NASA selects 7 instruments for Mars 2020 rover

Illustration of the SuperCam laser system.  LANL image.

NASA has budgeted about $130 million for a seven-instrument science payload announced July 31 for the sample-caching Mars rover the agency plans to launch in 2020.

The payload will include SuperCam, an instrument that can provide imaging, chemical composition analysis, and mineralogy. The principal investigator is Roger Wiens of Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. This instrument also has a significant contribution from the French space agency, CNES. (Full Story)

Los Alamos laser selected for 2020 Mars mission

SuperCam team leader Roger Wiens. LANL image.

NASA announced today that laser technology originally developed at Los Alamos National Laboratory has been selected for its new Mars mission in 2020.

"We are extremely excited to be going to Mars again," said Los Alamos National Laboratory planetary scientist Roger Wiens, Principal Investigator of the newly selected SuperCam team and current principal investigator of the Curiosity Rover's ChemCam Team. "More importantly for the mission, I know SuperCam is the very best remote sensor that NASA can have aboard." (Full Story)

Also in the Los Alamos Monitor

Scientists are about to use supernova cosmic rays to peer inside Fukushima

Los Alamos National Laboratory postdoc Elena Guardincerri, right, and undergraduate research assistant Shelby Fellows prepare a lead hemisphere inside a muon tomography machine. LANL photo.

Scientists are turning to nature’s own ultra-high-power cosmic rays, generated by supernovae and galactic nuclei, to produce what could be described as an interstellar X-ray machine.         

The result is a process called muon tomography, and after months of planning it finally seems to be going forward under the banner of the Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)

Shiny quantum dots may turn house windows into solar panels

Quantum dots are embedded in the plastic matrix and capture sunlight to improve solar-panel efficiency. LANL graphic.

A house window that doubles as a solar panel could be on the horizon, thanks to recent quantum-dot work by researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory in the US in collaboration with scientists from University of Milano-Bicocca (UNIMIB) in Italy.

Their work, published earlier this year in Nature Photonics, demonstrates that superior light-emitting properties of quantum dots can be applied in solar energy by helping more efficiently harvest sunlight. (Full Story)

New research helps scientists predict impact on climate

Research explores how sea spray chemistry contributes to aerosol particles in the atmosphere. From domain-b.

In a new paper published in the journal Environmental Research Letters, a multi-institutional team of researchers described a method to understand which types of these carbon-containing materials are prevalent in different parts of the ocean.

The team included scientists at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, University of Alaska, Harvard University, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology and University of California San Diego. (Full Story)

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