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The Curiosity rover, sporting Los Alamos’ ChemCam, examines the Kimberley formation in Gale crater on Mars.

Today, in accordance with a 1971 Presidential proclamation, the United States commemorates the first human setting foot on the moon. As a science agency, NNSA’s technology and development have given rise to extraterrestrial innovation and enabled other-worldly achievements. From building the hardware that help scientists reach outer space to modeling the physics that both explain and make space exploration possible, NNSA’s labs and sites are at the forefront of American space ingenuity.

LANL's robotic thinking telescope system, RAPTOR. Technology created by NNSA labs and scientists is frequently deployed and used from space, including nuclear detonation detection sensors and other space-based nonproliferation technology. NNSA lab researchers investigate sensing solutions to address a wide range of complex national security issues in space, including “patrolling traffic” of objects orbiting earth to keep them from colliding with each other, and the ChemCam instrument package currently exploring Mars.

Capabilities at NNSA’s labs that were created to support NNSA’s stockpile stewardship and nonproliferation missions are ideal for testing spacecraft materials against the harsh environments endured during space travel. Highlights of these efforts include:

  • NNSA engineers at Los Alamos National Laboratory work to power space missions with travel-size nuclear reactors.
  • Sandia National Laboratories engineers work through space concepts from a nuclear powered moon base and satellite propulsion to polymer films for space telescope mirrors.
  • NNSA’s Y-12 National Security Campus helps create fuel for NASA’s long-range space exploration missions, while Los Alamos lab helps chemically process and package the fuel.
  • NNSA’s Savannah River Site produced the plutonium used to power NASA’s Pluto flyby probe. More than 27 space missions have used plutonium-driven power sources, including 10 in Earth orbits, five moon missions, three Mars missions and nine planetary missions.

Among some of the most exciting work conducted at NNSA’s laboratories is for planetary defense – detecting, tracking, and planning deflection missions for asteroids that might collide with Earth. All of NNSA’s labs participate in the planetary defense effort.

Learn more about the work NNSA does to advance study of outer space at the space-focused web pages for Sandia, Los Alamos, and Lawrence Livermore national labs.

Participants gathered last week in Los Alamos to see featured scientists' work and get the first shot at engaging in tech transfer opportunities. They also had an opportunity to network.

PuLMo, a miniature artificial lung, mimics the response of the human lung to drugs, toxins, and other agents. The public was invited to learn about PuLMo and other technologies developed at LANL.Last week NNSA’s Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) co-hosted DisrupTech, a community event aimed at connecting innovation from the lab to community members and industry leaders to encourage technology transfer.

The title comes from the world-changing technologies the lab’s scientists deliver, which have the potential to disrupt existing markets and create new ones. The Richard P. Feynman Center for Innovation at Los Alamos co-sponsored the event, which featured entrepreneurial-minded Los Alamos scientists with ideas for groundbreaking technology. These researchers presented their technologies to a private-sector panel in hopes of garnering support to bring the ideas to industry.

Pulak Nath and Jennifer Harris presented PuLMo, a breathing “lung” bioreactor. Youzuo Lin discussed employing big-data techniques to accurately locate and explore geothermal energy. Dylan Harp presented his research on technology to evaluate the reliability of predictive models on rare events. David Thompson showcased technology that could revolutionize high-time-resolution, low-light imaging. Scott Hsu discussed his work toward developing nuclear fusion as a safe, secure, economical and carbon-free form of electricity production.

The pair of Pulak Nath and Jennifer Harris, second from left and second from right, tied with Steve Hsu, right, for "Best Pitch" at DisrupTech. Nath and Harris presented PuLMo while Hsu discussed his work toward developing nuclear fusion.


Team members from the Kansas City National Security Campus took back three Manufacturing Leadership Awards from the ceremony in Carlsbad, CA.

The spotlight was shining on the Kansas City National Security Campus (KCNSC) on June 8 at the Manufacturing Leadership Awards Summit.

The Manufacturing Leadership Council recognized KCNSC's achievements with awards in three categories, including Big Data & Advanced Analytics Leadership, Innovation Process Leadership, and Operational Excellence Leadership.

The awards highlighted recent advancements in the areas of digital manufacturing and 3D printing as well as continuous improvement projects that reduce costs, streamline processes and enhance overall safety and security of operations.

Now in its 12th year, the Manufacturing Leadership Council Awards honor organizations and individuals that are shaping the future of global manufacturing. They look for projects and individual manufacturing leaders demonstrating achievement across a wide-array of domains including sustainability, operational excellence, innovation, supply chain management and others.

Los Alamos National Laboratory uses high-performance computing to simulate wildfire behavior.

Fire season is in full swing in the driest parts of the United States, and capabilities of NNSA’s labs are helping equip firefighters in the heated battle to save property and environment.

NNSA’s labs are perfectly suited to support emergency response related to fire. A long history of adapting to climate change has prepared NNSA researchers at NNSA labs for a cascade of climate related impacts: drought, wildfires, and historic flooding.

Strategies resulting from experience not only put powerful computing to work to simulate complex physical phenomena, but also increase coordination and communication between Federal, state, and local agencies in the regions surrounding NNSA’s labs. Preparedness through science-based strategies and communication processes help identify and aggressively manage risk from fire. 

One NNSA-lab-supported technology and company is helping model and predict where wildfires are most likely to spread or where traffic congestion will occur by projecting an interactive, three-dimensional model onto a tabletop sand surface. With algorithms that include camera-based object-tracking and projection developed by the lab, the emergency operations team can simulate a wildland fire spreading across any terrain. The system takes into account weather, vegetation and fuel conditions.

Learn more about NNSA’s simulation capabilities in advanced computing at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Los Alamos National Laboratory, and Sandia National Laboratories.

In 2011 a wildfire burned part of the Nevada National Security Site. One of the wildlife cameras caught the fire as it approached. The camera was destroyed but somehow the data card survived.