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Space Sciences at Los Alamos National Laboratory Cuttingedge science and technology to advance the L


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Title: Space Sciences at Los Alamos National Laboratory Cuttingedge science and technology to advance the L

Space Sciences at Los Alamos National
LaboratoryCutting-edge science and
technologyto advance the Los Alamos national
security mission.
Center for Space Science and Exploration
  • Director Michelle Thomsen
  • Focal point for civilian space efforts at LANL
  • Promotes scientific excellence in space science
    and exploration
  • Strategically develops major new space
    capabilities by applying the Laboratory's cutting
    edge science and technology to the US space

Developing Capabilities to Support the National
Security Mission
  • Charter Develop and Maintain a Vigorous,
    Peer-Reviewed Space Science Program
  • Support the capability base for national security
  • Enhance the scientific credibility of the
  • Attract and retain top talent and expertise
  • CSSEs 3 Primary Roles
  • Liason with NASA HQ, NASA field centers, and DOE
    Facilitate proposal submission, open and maintain
    funding pipeline, coordinate with NASA HQ on
    strategic directions and review panels
  • Serve as a Center for Excellence at the Lab
    Sponsor and support conferences and workshops,
    support new collaborative opportunities (internal
    and external), LANL/NASA USRP student program,
    facilitate student and post-doc pipeline, host
    visitors, sponsor seminars
  • Lead outreach and education activities Student
    teacher programs, robotic workshops, promote LANL
    space sciences to the public

Space Sciences at Los Alamos
  • About 7 of all LANL peer-reviewed publications
    but comprises lt 1 of the budget!
  • Develop new science and technology for the
    national security mission
  • Cutting-edge research attract and retain top
  • Captivating science of high interest to the public

(Space Science journals only does not include
conference publications books or journals such
as Science, Nature, Phys. Rev., IEEE, NIM, etc.)
Early Space Exploration at Los Alamos
  • 1950s - Developed diagnostic instrumentation for
    above ground nuclear testing in Pacific
  • Late 1950s - Developed instruments for detection
    of nuclear explosions in the atmosphere (series
    of ballistic sounding rocket instruments)
  • 1963 - Limited Test Ban Treaty was signed by USA
    and USSR, Monitoring instruments deployed (Vela
  • Detected X-rays, gamma rays, neutrons, and plasma
  • Both monitoring and scientific contributions
    primary mission was nuclear explosion detection
    but many significant science contributions were

Los Alamos in Space Historical Perspective
  • Discovery of gamma ray bursts (Klebesadel et
    al., 1973)
  • Discovery of the Earths plasma sheet(Bame et
    al., 1967)
  • Discovery of heavy ions high charge states in
    the solar wind (Bame et al., 1968)
  • 6 pairs of satellites at 60,000 mile altitude

Supporting Todays National Security Programs
Signatures backgrounds
Signal propagation instrument development
Data collection fusion
Performance Analysis
Supporting Todays National Security Programs
Satellite-based Nuclear Detonation Detection
Space NUDET Gamma Rays Neutrons X-rays
100 km
30 km
Transition Region NUDET Optical Gamma Rays
Low Altitude NUDET Optical EMP
Supporting Todays National Security Programs
Satellite-based Nonproliferation Programs
Hotspots are 70-100 C
Mutispectral Thermal Imager Launched March 12,
Hotter Objects in lower Manhattan appear white or
Advanced image interpretation of MTI imagery
GENIE Genetic algorithm for automated feature
extraction RED Hotspots from the WTC attack are
red. BLUE Smoke plume is light blue GREEN Smoke
plumes shadow WHITE Debris field from WTC
Supporting Todays National Security Programs
Satellite Technologies
  • DOE satellites
  • Lead for ALEXIS, FORTE (w SNL), CFE
  • Partner on MTI (SNL lead, w SRTC)
  • Over 100 payloads
  • Complete Capability
  • Design
  • Fabricate
  • Test
  • Operate

Los Alamos Unique Capabilities
Planetary Missions
  • What are planets made of?
  • How are they different from Earth?
  • Why are they different?
  • Planet/solar system formation/evolution
  • Missions include
  • Cassini (Saturn)
  • Lunar Prospector (moon)
  • Mars missions (Mars Odyssey, Mars Science Lab)
  • Dawn (asteroid Ceres and protoplanet Vesta)

Cassini CAPS
  • Cassini Plasma Spectrometers
  • Last of the NASA big missions
  • over 3B total
  • Long term mission to Saturn
  • launched in 1997, arrived at Saturn 2004, four
    year mission
  • Study Saturn and it Earth-like moon Titan
  • LANL responsible for two major instruments
  • Uses LANL radioisotope heat sources (RTGs)
  • Collected new scientific information from Jupiter
    during several month orbit

Planetary Neutron and ?-Ray Spectroscopy Lunar
  • Mapping Water on the Moon
  • Neutrons from cosmic ray spallation are moderated
    by H
  • Presence of H (the signature of water) is
    observed at the poles and bottom of craters
  • Mapping the Elements
  • Gamma-ray spectra enable global maps of the
  • Major species O, Si, Ti, Al, Fe, Mg, and Ca, and
    radioactive Th, K, and U

Epithermal neutrons (counts/32s)
Iron gamma-rays
  • First time neutrons used to image another planet
  • Orbital mission lasted 1-1/2 y
  • Total cost 63M - including launch vehicle

Planetary Neutron and ?-Ray Spectroscopy Mars
  • Mapping Hydrogen on Mars
  • Neutrons from cosmic ray spallation are moderated
    by H
  • Presence of H (a signature of water) is noted as
    a low epithermal neutron flux
  • Construct spatial maps of concentrations of key
    elements using ground based data processing

Contours are from Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter
Astrophysics Missions
  • Investigate the origin of the universe
  • How did the universe form?
  • Current missions include
  • Swift
  • XMM
  • Milagro

Fast Transient Astrophysics ROTSE and RAPTOR
Robotic Optical Transient Search Experiment
RAPTOR The ROTSE Follow-on
  • Two wide-field telescope systems stereoscopically
    monitoring sky for optical transients, analogous
    to human vision
  • No satellite alerting required
  • Central fovea cameras provide color, light
    curve, and higher spatial resolution. Rapid
    slewing mount places transient on fovea cameras
    in lt3 seconds.
  • ROTSE images of visible light from a gamma ray
    burst (GRB) on January 23, 1999 after Bepi-SAX
  • First optical detection of a GRB
  • Brightest object ever seen by astronomers

Fast Transient Astrophysics HETE-II
  • Purpose determine origin and nature of cosmic
    gamma-ray bursts (GRBs)
  • Co-investigator of the Wide-field X-ray Monitor
    (WXM) for x-ray study of GRBs
  • Launched 2000, became operational on 2/2/01
    observed GRB010213 on 2/13/01

  • Purpose determine origin of GRBs and focus on
    studying their afterglow
  • First of its kind multiwavelength observatory
    dedicated to the study of gamma ray bursts (GRBs)
  • International collaboration US, UK, Italy,
  • 3 co-aligned instruments Burst Alert Telescope
    (BAT), X-ray Telescope (XRT), and
    UltraViolet/Optical Telescope (UVOT)
  • Launched November 2004
  • On December 11, 5 GRBs were detected

X-Ray Multi-Mirror Mission
  • European Space Agency cornerstone mission for
    x-ray astronomy
  • Optical Monitor (OM) instrument provides
    simultaneous optical UV coverage of x-ray field
    of view
  • Los Alamos part of a team (UCSB and Sandia) that
    provides the Digital Processing Unit for the OM
  • DPU performs on-board data acquisition and
    processing to maximize scientific output
  • Launched December 1999

  • Milagro is a large pool of water (about the size
    of a football field), covered with a light-tight
    barrier, instrumented with 723 light-sensitive
    detectors known as photo-multiplier tubes (PMTs).
  • Continuously monitors the entire overhead sky in
    the TeV energy regime it is uniquely suited to
    study the transient Universe and to discover new
  • Purpose to discover new sources of TeV photons,
    possibly observe TeV emission from Gamma-Ray
    Bursts, discover primordial black holes, or
    discover completely new phenomena
  • Large collaborative effort

Solar Wind Missions
  • Characterize the solar wind
  • Sun Earth connections
  • What is the sun made of?
  • How did we get here?
  • Historical missions include IMP (1971-2003,
    first NASA-funded mission at LANL), ISEE
  • Current missions include
  • ACE
  • Ulysses
  • Genesis
  • IBEX

Understanding Space Weatherfrom the Sun
ACE and Ulysses Understanding and monitoring
Coronal Mass Ejections (CMEs) and solar wind
Low T
High He
High B
Smooth rotation in B
Medium Energy Neutral Atom (MENA) Imagers on
IMAGE (launched March 2000)
Interstellar Boundary Explorer
  • Purpose discover the global interaction between
    solar wind and the insterstellar medium
  • Travel outside Earths magnetosphere in a highly
    elliptical, high apogee orbit
  • LANL responsible for IBEX Hi instrument
  • Launch 2008
  • Major Objectives
  • First measurements of interaction region between
    the heliosphere and the local interstellar medium
  • Take set of global Energetic Neutral atom (ENA)
    images (ENA energy spectra are direct measures of
    solar wind, pickup ions and energetic protons
    beyond termination shock above 1 keV, they
    provide info about how energetic particle
    pressure modifies termination shock)

Magnetospheric Missions
  • Image the magnetosphere on a global scale
  • How do ions/electrons/atoms move about
  • How do the magnetosphere and the solar wind
  • How do the ionosphere and magnetosphere interact
  • Effects on the Earth such as the aurora and space
  • Current missions include
  • Geosynchronous satellites
  • Polar
  • Cluster

Understanding Space Weatherto the Earth
LANL/DOE geosynchronous data combined with ENA
MENA/IMAGE, TWINS, and POLAR Geomagnetic storm
evolution viewed by energetic neutral atom (ENA)
Cluster II
  • Purpose in-situ investigation of the Earth's
    magnetosphere using four identical spacecraft
  • Study the small-scale plasma structures in space
    and time in the key plasma regions
  • solar wind and bow shock
  • Magnetopause
  • polar cusp
  • magnetotail
  • auroral zone
  • Novel compact sensor concept relying on set of 3
    ion-implanted solid state detectors and pinhole
    acceptance to measure distributions of both
    electrons ions over all angles
  • Launched July, August 2000

Lightning Research
FORTE Fast On-Orbit Recording of Transient Events
Lightning Signature Trans-Ionospheric Pulse
Pair (TIPP)
  • Missions
  • Testbed for Next Generation Nuclear EMP Sensor
  • Space-based Lightning Detection
  • Platform
  • Altitude 825 km
  • Inclination 70 degrees
  • Launched August 29, 1997
  • Instruments
  • Broadband VHF receivers (26-300 MHz, 1 ms
  • Photodiode (15 mS resolution)
  • CCD Imager (10 km resolution)

Other LANL RF Instruments Blackbeard/ALEXIS,
Advanced Space Nuclear Power
  • Heat Pipe System (HPS)
  • Missions to the outer planets and heliosphere
    manned missions to Mars
  • HPS successfully demonstrated at MSFC with a 25
    kWt electric heaters and a 350 We Sterling engine
  • end-to-end testing with DS-1-type ion thruster
    at JPL 250 kWt heaters at MSFC
  • Critical role in reactor development for NASAs
    Prometheus and Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JIMO)

Also, RTG fuel fabrication, reactor design,
particle transport codes.
Los Alamos Space Science Outreach - LASSO
  • Summer Teachers Workshop
  • Robotic workshops
  • Classroom activities
  • Bradbury Science Museum activities
  • Public lectures