Friday, September 10, 2021

Mars rover grabs first rock sample, a major step in hunt for alien life

This small cylinder of rock—shown here within the rover’s drill rig—is the first sample of dozens, NASA image.


"We are going to be surprised," says Nina Lanza, a planetary scientist and team lead for Space and Planetary Exploration at Los Alamos National Laboratory. "We are going to learn things that we never could have imagined."


The sampled boulder appears similar to other rocks poking up from the crater floor, sometimes called "high-standing rocks," says Roger Wiens, a planetary scientist at Los Alamos National Laboratory and principal investigator of Perseverance's SuperCam. Early on, the team planned to sample one of these high-standing rocks as well as the paver stones. “But we wanted to start with what we thought would be the easiest, which would be the softer ones—and, uh, oops,” Wiens laughs. (Full Story)





The impact of switching research fields

Karissa Sanbonmatsu gives a TED talk on
epigenetics in 2018.  From TED. 


When Karissa Sanbonmatsu joined the Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) as a postdoctoral researcher in 1997, she was eager to apply her plasma physics training to problems in space physics and laser fusion. Shortly after becoming a principal investigator, however, she became intrigued by the life sciences and decided to shift to studying biophysics. “I made it happen by leveraging transferable skill sets,” she says. Now she enjoys success as a structural biologist, combining wet lab biochemistry with computational biophysics and cryoelectron microscopy. “When you switch fields, you bring a fresh perspective that people haven’t heard about before,” she says. (Full Story)




Answering The Call: How New Mexico’s national laboratories used science and technology after 9/11 to help keep the country safe


Los Alamos Director Thom Mason (left) and Sandia Director James Peery.


The terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, changed all of us in ways big and small — from our sense of security to how we travel. For New Mexico’s two national security laboratories, it meant quickly pivoting our scientific, engineering and technological resources to respond. As we reflect on the 20th anniversary, we’re reminded of the continuing need to be ready and equipped to counter the evolving threats that face our nation.


Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories had already been doing important work for the U.S. government to keep Americans safe when the Twin Towers and Pentagon were attacked 20 years ago. But it became immediately clear that, in addition to the innovation needed to protect the country from attacks by adversarial nations with defined borders, we must also develop tools to protect Americans from attacks by terrorist groups who operated in multiple countries and were driven by many agendas. (Full Story)




Los Alamos lab working on hydrogen-powered truck project

Rod Borup, LANL photo.

Diesel engines have been the norm for heavy-duty long-haul trucks since the mid-20th century. But the black smoke belching from the big rigs has become a growing concern as research shows diesel pollution is bad both for public health and the warming climate.


Some Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers are working on a technology to clear this noxious pollutant from the roadways. The lab is part of a consortium working to develop hydrogen fuel cells that would work well on big trucks and eventually replace the diesel-burning engines.


“Really, the time to get [hydrogen fuel] trucks out on the road is now,” said Rod Borup, lab scientist and fuel cell program manager. (Full Story)


Also from Hydrogen Fuel News




Colloidal quantum dot laser research overcomes challenges


Colloidal quantum dot diodes.  LANL image.


In a new review article published in the journal Nature Photonics, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL; Los Alamos, NM) assess the status of research into colloidal quantum dot lasers with a focus on prospective electrically pumped devices, or laser diodes. The review analyzes the challenges for realizing lasing with electrical excitation, discusses approaches to overcome them, and surveys recent advances toward this objective.


“Colloidal quantum dot lasers have tremendous potential in a range of applications, including integrated optical circuits, wearable technologies, lab-on-a-chip devices, and advanced medical imaging and diagnostics,” says Victor Klimov, a senior researcher in the Chemistry division at LANL and lead author of the Nature Photonics article. (Full Story)