Friday, April 23, 2021

Mars didn't lose all of its water at once, based on Curiosity rover find

The higher regions of Mount Sharp on Mars. NASA image.


The latest study, gathered from data captured by one of the rover's instruments, suggests that Mars actually transitioned back and forth between wetter and drier times before losing its surface water completely around three billion years ago.


An instrument called a ChemCam sits on the rover's mast and includes a high-resolution camera and laser that can vaporize rocks to help the rover analyze their chemical composition. 


"A primary goal of the Curiosity mission was to study the transition between the habitable environment of the past, to the dry and cold climate that Mars has now," said Roger Wiens, study co-author on the paper and ChemCam team scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory. (Full Story)


Also from Sci-News


Los Alamos researchers study how wildfire smoke impacts climate


Researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory have developed a first-of-its-kind tool to learn if smoke from wildfires is warming the climate. The humidified single-scattering albedometer will analyze moisture levels in wildfire smoke plumes and study how water binds with soot particles.


Manvendra Dubey, a researcher at the laboratory for more than 20 years, said the impacts of carbon emissions and greenhouse gases are “without a doubt” affecting our climate. “Given the drought and the La Niña conditions, the forecast indicates this will be an active year [for fires] that we need to prepare for,” he said. (Full Story)


Simulations reveal how dominant SARS-CoV-2 strain binds to host, succumbs to antibodies


The G form of SARS-CoV-2 more easily attaches to host receptors, and is more susceptible to antibodies, LANL graphic.


Large-scale supercomputer simulations at the atomic level show that the dominant G form variant of the COVID-19-causing virus is more infectious partly because of its greater ability to readily bind to its target host receptor in the body, compared to other variants. These research results from a Los Alamos National Laboratory-led team illuminate the mechanism of both infection by the G form and antibody resistance against it, which could help in future vaccine development.


"We found that the interactions among the basic building blocks of the Spike protein become more symmetrical in the G form, and that gives it more opportunities to bind to the receptors in the host -- in us," said Gnana Gnanakaran, corresponding author of the paper published today in Science Advances. (Full Story)


Also from AZO Life Sciences


Also from Science Daily this week:


New pulsed magnet reveals a new state of matter in Kondo insulator


recent series of experiments at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory (National MagLab) at Los Alamos National Laboratory leveraged some of the nation's highest-powered nondestructive magnets to reveal an exotic new phase of matter at high magnetic fields. The experiments studied the unusual Kondo insulator ytterbium dodecaboride (or YbB12) and were the first results from the new 75-tesla duplex magnet housed at the National MagLab's Pulsed Field Facility at Los Alamos.


"This magnet and the resulting experiments are the first fruits of the National Science Foundation-supported pulsed magnet surge," said Michael Rabin, director of the Pulsed Field Facility at Los Alamos. (Full Story)



Tweet analysis uncovers how COVID conspiracy theories evolved


Building a machine learning model to filter analyze 120 million tweets showed researchers at Los Alamos National Laboratory how COVID-19 conspiracy theories evolved over time. The tool could someday help public health officials combat misinformation online, lab representatives said.


“We wanted to create a more cohesive understanding of how misinformation changes as it spreads,” said Courtney Shelley, a postdoctoral researcher in the Information Systems and Modeling Group at the lab. “Because people tend to believe the first message they encounter, public health officials could someday monitor which conspiracy theories are gaining traction on social media and craft factual public information campaigns to preempt widespread acceptance of falsehoods.” (Full Story)


Also from the LA Reporter and Medical News


Ultra-high-energy gamma rays originate from pulsar nebulae


HAWC gamma ray detector in Mexico.  HAWC photo.


The discovery that the nebulae surrounding the most powerful pulsars are pumping out ultra-high-energy gamma rays could rewrite the book about the rays' galactic origins. Pulsars are rapidly rotating, highly magnetized collapsed stars surrounded by nebulae powered by winds generated inside the pulsars.


"We took advantage of the wide field-of-view and survey capabilities at the High Altitude Water Cherenkov Observatory (HAWC) to search around a collection of powerful pulsars. We found significant evidence that ultra-high-energy gamma-ray emission is a universal feature found near these objects," said Kelly Malone, an astrophysicist in the Nuclear and Particle Physics and Applications group at Los Alamos National Laboratory and lead author of the HAWC Collaboration's new study of gamma radiation from pulsars. (Full Story)


Also from Newswise

New biosensor designed to detect toxins and more


PEGASUS optical biosensor, LANL photo.


device from Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers is not quite the Star Trek “tricorder” medical scanner, but it’s a step in the right direction. The Portable EnGineered Analytic Sensor with aUtomated Sampling (PEGASUS) is a miniaturized waveguide-based optical sensor that can detect toxins, bacterial signatures, viral signatures, biothreats, white powders and more, from samples such as blood, water, CSF, food, and animal samples.


“The ability to detect pathogens, biological threats or toxins, quickly and accurately, without prior knowledge of the agent, would lead to improved human and environmental health outcomes,” said lead researcher Harshini Mukundan. “This is an important step toward understanding what an emergency responder is dealing with, and providing them with quick results.” (Full Story)


Machine learning model generates realistic seismic waveforms


new machine-learning model that generates realistic seismic waveforms will reduce manual labor and improve earthquake detection, according to a study published recently in JGR Solid Earth.


“To verify the ecacy of our generative model, we applied it to seismic field data collected in Oklahoma,” said Youzuo Lin, a computational scientist in Los Alamos National Laboratory’s Geophysics group and principal investigator of the project. “Through a sequence of qualitative and quantitative tests and benchmarks, we saw that our model can generate high-quality synthetic waveforms and improve machine learning-based earthquake detection algorithms.” (Full Story)


Also from the Reporter this week:


LANL employees donate more than $40,000 to Santa Fe’s food depot


Los Alamos National Laboratory employees donated $41,723 to The Food Depot as part of their annual food drive last week, estimated to provide more than 166,000 meals to Northern New Mexicans facing food insecurity. Laboratory employees have also contributed 233 community service hours to the organization in the last 12 months.


“In the past year, The Food Depot has experienced a 30 percent increase in the number of Northern New Mexicans needing their services,” said Laboratory Director Thom Mason. “I am pleased to know that Laboratory employees have risen to the occasion with their donations and community service.” (Full Story)


And two more:


Ellen Cerreta named president of The Minerals, Metals & Materials Society


Ellen Cerreta, LANL photo.


Ellen Cerreta, the Los Alamos National Laboratory’s division leader for Materials Science and Technology, has been named president of The Minerals, Metals, & Materials Society (TMS), a professional society for scientists and engineers in those fields.


“TMS aspires to be the professional society where global materials, science, and engineering practitioners come together to scope the future of materials engineering and technology,” said Cerreta. “As such, I am honored to have been selected by the membership of this society to serve as president.”


The Minerals, Metals, & Materials Society connects minerals, metals, and materials scientists and engineers who work in industry, academia, and government positions around the world. (Full Story)


LANL’s Terry Miller is enmeshed in the depths of Earth science


Terry Miller, LANL photo.


Terry Miller lives near a park that boasts a waterfall, a jaw-dropping gorge and the remains of ancient lava flows. Down steep switchbacks to the Rio Grande and through grassy fields with mountain views, she trains search-and-rescue dogs.


She’s often drilling dogs or responding to wilderness rescues when she’s not shaking up earth science at Los Alamos National Laboratory.


Miller is a Subsurface Modeling Research Technologist for the Computational Earth Science group. She commands — and develops — special tools that allow her to peel back and render the hidden layers of geology for subsurface simulations. Her work benefits research into environmental health, cleaner energy and national security. (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