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November 2011

John MaenchenJohn Maenchen, Sandia National Laboratories’ representative on the National Nuclear Security Administration’s (NNSA) Defense Programs Science Council, has been named as an IEEE Fellow.

Maenchen is being recognized for leadership in the development of intense pulsed charged particle beams and their application for flash radiography.
The IEEE grade of Fellow is conferred by the IEEE Board of Directors upon a person with an outstanding record of accomplishments in any of the IEEE fields of interest. The total number selected in any one year cannot exceed one-tenth of one- percent of the total voting membership. IEEE Fellow is the highest grade of membership and is recognized by the technical community as a prestigious honor and an important career achievement. This year 321 individuals have been elevated to IEEE Fellow.

Maenchen received a Ph.D. in ElectroPhysics from Cornell University in 1983 and immediately joined Sandia National Laboratories. As both a scientist and manager he advanced science, technology, and engineering through the design and construction of pulsed power accelerators, the invention and development of new intense electron-beam, ion-beam, and z-pinch loads, the modeling and theory of their operation, the invention of diagnostic approaches to investigate their performance, and the invention and development of new government and commercial applications for these capabilities. In this time he initiated a resurgence in pulsed power driven flash radiographic technologies, leading an international team to significantly advance the state of the art. This body of achievement was honored with the 2009 IEEE Nuclear and Plasma Science Society Pulsed Power Science and Technology Committee’s Peter Haas award.

Subsequent to these activities, Maenchen managed Nuclear Weapons Science and Technology Program international strategic planning, the site Deinventory of Special Nuclear Materials, and the Readiness in Technical Base and Facilities portfolios. Since 2009 he has served in his current role at NNSA.

The IEEE is the world’s leading professional association for advancing technology for humanity. See

Cook at WW



Don Cook, NNSA’s Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs, today gave the keynote address at the Workshop on Nuclear Forces and Nonproliferation at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, D.C. The workshop, sponsored by Los Alamos National Laboratory, focused on the evolving U.S. nuclear forces and their impacts on nonproliferation, arms control and disarmament, with special attention to the implementation of the Nuclear Posture Review and to the long term prospects for the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons.





The Kansas City Plant (KCP) is one of the first NNSA sites to submit a productivity savings event under a share-in-savings program that offers NNSA contractors a share of the savings as an incentive on top of an annual award fee pool.

The Kansas City Site Office approved Honeywell FM&T’s first share-in-savings proposal in November for the purchase of used office furniture instead of new furniture, resulting in a savings of about $85,000. The estimate for new furniture was about $352,000. The used furniture cost $267,000. In addition, the used furniture is similar to that planned for the new facility being built eight miles south of the current Kansas City Plant and can be moved there later. The used furniture was also available from six to 10 weeks sooner.

The cost reduction clause also allows the contractors to reward their employees who generate the cost savings ideas. This use of share-in-savings was added to M&O contracts as a savings tool made available by the NNSA-wide Business Management Advisory Council, chartered specifically to implement enterprise-level business and operational efficiencies.

Under the program, the contractor may share in the net savings under the following formula: 50 percent of the net savings is the government’s share; 10 percent is a savings fee to the contractor; and 40 percent of the savings remains at the NNSA site.

The program is a great example of how KCP is working as one NNSA to operate more efficiently and effectively. KCP is constantly trying to work smarter and improve the way KCP does business at every level. Even small things, like buying used office furniture, can help KCP do its part to save money when budgets are tight.

OMEGA LaserThe OMEGA Laser System, a key asset for NNSA's stockpile stewardship program, recently completed its 20,000th target shot.

Located at the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) in New York state, the Omega Laser Facility includes the 60-beam OMEGA Laser System – which has been in operation since 1995 – and OMEGA EP, or extended performance laser, which came online in 2008. The two lasers can be used independently or together to provide a more detailed x-ray image of a particular experiment.

The Omega Laser Facility is used to generate extreme temperatures and pressures required to support the Stockpile Stewardship Program, including the development of ignition. The Facility is operated as a national user facility, with experiments performed by scientists from the national laboratories, LLE, and numerous universities.

“The OMEGA Laser System has been one of NNSA’s High Energy Density (HED) workhorses providing essential physics results required to support the demonstration of inertial confinement fusion ignition on the National Ignition Facility (NIF) and the Stockpile Stewardship Program,” said Don Cook, Deputy Administrator for Defense Programs. “The experimental platforms and techniques developed on OMEGA are essential to the successful use of the NIF. The basic HED science research performed on OMEGA supports NNSA’s mission of developing the workforce to support future national needs.”

In concert with the NNSA's Z machine at Sandia National Laboratories, the National Ignition Facility at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, and other scientific and computing capabilities, the Omega Laser Facility helps NNSA scientists to maintain a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent without underground testing. Together, these tools will help experts evaluate key scientific assumptions in current computer models, obtain previously unavailable data on how materials behave at temperatures and pressures like those in the center of a star, and help validate NNSA's supercomputer simulations by comparing code predictions against observations from laboratory experiments.

See more about OMEGA here.

With the successful launch of the Mars Science Laboratory on Saturday, Los Alamos National Laboratory researchers and scientists from the French space institute IRAP are poised to begin focusing the energy of a million light bulbs on the surface of the red planet to help determine whether Mars was or is habitable.

The international team of space explorers that launched the Mars Science Laboratory last week is relying in part on an instrument originally developed at Los Alamos called ChemCam, which will use blasts of laser energy to remotely probe Mars’s surface. The robust ChemCam system is one of 10 instruments mounted on the mission’s Curiosity rover.
When ChemCam fires its extremely powerful laser pulse, it will vaporize an area the size of a pinhead. The system’s telescope will peer at the flash of glowing plasma created by the vaporized material and record the colors of light contained within it. These spectral colors will then be interpreted by a spectrometer, enabling scientists to determine the elemental composition of the vaporized material.
 Chemcam team  ChemCam can deliver multiple pulses in extremely rapid succession to a single area or quickly zap multiple areas, providing researchers with great versatility for sampling the surface of the planet. ChemCam is designed to look for lighter elements such as carbon, nitrogen, and oxygen, all of which are crucial for life. The system can provide immediate, unambiguous detection of water from frost or other sources on the surface as well as carbon—a basic building block of life as well as a possible byproduct of life.

See more.

Launchpad Mars

Twenty-four federal, contractor and laboratory personnel from throughout NNSA – including the Savannah River Site Office, Nevada Site Office, Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and ORISE-Oak Ridge -- supported the NASA Mars Scientific Laboratory launch this weekend at Cape Canaveral, Florida. NASA’s newest Mars rover is powered by a Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermal Generator made up of just more than 10 pounds of plutionium-238, and NNSA personnel were there in the unlikely event of an accident involving the Atlas V Rocket carrying the Curiosity rover. The plutonium provides heat and power for the components during the flight to Mars and once Curiosity begins its mission on the surface of the red planet, which is scheduled for August 2012.

SignLos Alamos also provided the plutonium canisters that will provide power and heat to the rover, an effort that comprised the expertise of nearly 50 researchers and technicians. The power sources, called radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs), will give Curiosity several times as much electricity as earlier rovers, and are necessary for the much larger and more-advanced payload on Curiosity.




Group photo

Members from the NNSA’s Office of Emergency Operations and the Remote Sensing Laboratory (RSL) from the Nevada National Security Site (NNSS) continue to conduct consequence management training around the globe. Most recently the RSL and NNSA team conducted training for the international community with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna, Austria.

The International Consequence Management (I-CM) training course provides attendees with information and data on means and methods for setting up and establishing a monitoring and assessment program to deal with a nuclear/radiological incident or event.

NNSA provided the training to 25 participants from 19 countries and the IAEA. The training course also included hands on equipment training in techniques for monitoring and data collection and analysis.

NNSA currently collaborates with more than 80 foreign governments and 10 international organizations with projects ranging from providing assistance to foreign governments in improving their emergency preparedness and response programs, to joint collaborative activities to improve emergency management infrastructure worldwide.
The team plans to conduct additional training in the spring with the IAEA.

The RSL is a center for advanced technologies, focused on the scientific, technological, and operational disciplines necessary to ensure the success of national security missions. Originally called “Aerial Measurements Operations," the laboratory was created in the 1950s in Las Vegas, Nevada, to serve as an integral part of the worldwide emergency system to provide rapid response to radiological emergencies. The RSL emergency responders represent the Department of Energy's Accident Response Group and the Federal Radiological Monitoring and Assessment Center. The responders can deploy to emergencies related to crisis management including nuclear power plant accidents and searches, NASA launches, and transportation accidents involving nuclear materials.


Over at the White House blog, Laura Holgate, Senior Director for WMD Terrorism and Threat Reduction, writes about prepreations for the 2012 Nuclear Security Summit to be held in Seoul, South Korea.  

She writes:

"Even though I’d been aware of many of these events as they happened, it was really impressive to see the progress piled up: over 400 kg of highly enriched uranium removed from over 10 countries – enough for 16 nuclear bombs.  A dozen new countries joining the key international treaties.  Over a dozen new nuclear security training and research “centers of excellence” opening their doors.  Key tools for international cooperation on nuclear security, such as UN Security Council Resolution 1540 and the G8 Global Partnership Against the Spread of Weapons and Materials of Mass Destruction extended into the next decade.  Increased resources for the International Atomic Energy Agency’s support to its member states to improve security on nuclear materials.  Tens of tons of Highly Enriched Uranium permanently destroyed by Russia and the US – raw material for thousands of nuclear weapons.  Nuclear industry players adopting “Principles of Conduct” including commitments to secure materials at their facilities, and working together through the World Institute of Nuclear Security to identify and promote best practices in nuclear security.  INTERPOL setting up a new radiological-nuclear center to bring law enforcement tools to bear more effectively on nuclear smuggling. "

Click through to the White House blog to read more about her work leading up to the 2012 NSS.  

Admiral James A. Winnefield, the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff visited Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) recently. Winnefield is a four star Navy Admiral, and as Vice Chairman is the second highest-ranking U.S. military officer.

Winnefield was at LANL to receive a wide variety of classified briefings that covered the broad spectrum of national security science at LANL. Winnefield was briefed by the LANL’s senior leadership including director Charlie McMillan, and Principal Associate Directors Bret Knapp and Terry Wallace. The briefings included details of the LANL’s Nuclear Weapons Program and Global Security portfolio.

In addition to the briefings, Winnefield was given a tour of LANL’s Plutonium Facility at Technical Area 55.

WinfieldAs commander of Carrier Strike Group Two/Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, Winnefield led Task Forces support of Operation Iraqi Freedom and maritime interception operations in the Arabian Gulf. Winnefield also served as commander, United States 6th Fleet; commander NATO Allied Joint Command, Lisbon; and, commander, Striking and Support Forces NATO. Winnefield also served as the commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM).




Harrington Group

Anne Harrington, NNSA Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation, and Rhys Williams, NNSA Deputy Director, Nonproliferation and Verification Research & Development, visited Sandia National Laboratories on Nov. 15 to see the results of NNSA's Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Research and Development Program at Sandia.

NNSA’s Office of Nonproliferation Research and Development is the principal organization in the U.S. government that conducts long-term basic and applied research, development, testing, and evaluation into new nuclear nonproliferation, counterproliferation, and counterterrorism technologies.  It work to reduce the threat to national security posed by nuclear weapons proliferation and illicit nuclear materials trafficking by developing new and novel technologies that can be translated into useful tools.