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Sandia Labs News Releases

Category Archives: Space / Astronomy

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Marcus Knudson

Sandia physicist accepts first joint faculty appointment with Washington State University

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Sandia National Laboratories physicist Marcus Knudson is the first joint faculty appointee to serve both Sandia and Washington State University (WSU). In the position, Knudson will enhance fundamental research into the compression of materials under extreme conditions, using Sandia’s unique Z machine. “The science of dynamic material compression is a core capability […]

True Saturn

Sandia’s Z machine helps solve Saturn’s 2-billion-year age gap

Research supports 80-year-old prediction ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Planets tend to cool as they get older, but Saturn is hotter than astrophysicists say it should be without some additional energy source. The unexplained heat has caused a two-billion-year discrepancy for computer models estimating Saturn’s age. “Models that correctly predict Jupiter to be 4.5 billion years old […]

Planet impact

Iron rain fell on early Earth, new Z machine data supports

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Researchers at Sandia National Laboratories’ Z machine have helped untangle a long-standing mystery of astrophysics: why iron is found spattered throughout Earth’s mantle, the roughly 2,000-mile thick region between Earth’s core and its crust. At first blush, it seemed more reasonable that iron arriving from collisions between Earth and  planetesimals — ranging […]

‘Iron Sun’ is not a rock band, but a key to how stars transmit energy

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M — Working at temperatures matching the interior of the sun, researchers at Sandia National Laboratories’ Z machine have been able to determine experimentally, for the first time in history, iron’s role in inhibiting energy transmission from the center of the sun to near the edge of its radiative band — the section of […]

3-D codes yield unprecedented physics, engineering insights

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — When the space shuttle Columbia disintegrated on re-entry in 2002, sophisticated computer models were key to determining what happened. A piece of foam flew off at launch and hit a tile, damaging the leading edge of the shuttle wing and exposing the underlying structure. Temperatures soared to thousands of degrees as Columbia […]

Chelyabinsk rendering

Physicist’s journey reveals smaller asteroids could cause bigger problems

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Once in a lifetime, a physicist may get a chance to test his theories and simulations in a real-life event that changes the course of his scientific life. But rarely does that opportunity literally fall from the sky. That’s the impact of the Feb. 15 asteroid that burst over the Russian city […]

Boslough

Study rebuts hypothesis that comet attacks ended 13,000-year-old Clovis culture

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Rebutting a speculative hypothesis that comet explosions changed Earth’s climate sufficiently to end the Clovis culture in North America about 13,000 years ago, Sandia lead author Mark Boslough and researchers from 14 academic institutions assert that other explanations must be found for the apparent disappearance. “There’s no plausible mechanism to get airbursts […]

Alaskan North Slope climate: hard data from a hard place

Researchers examine clouds (from both sides now) and the structure of the atmosphere BARROW, Alaska — Sandia National Laboratories’ researcher Mark Ivey and I (science writer Neal Singer)  are standing on the tundra at an outpost of science at the northernmost point of the North American continent. We are five miles northeast of Barrow, an Alaskan village […]

Sandia experiments may force revision of astrophysical models of the universe

Ice giant planets have more water volume than believed  ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The idea of compressing water is foreign to our daily experience. Nevertheless, an accurate estimate of water’s shrinking volume under the huge gravitational pressures of  large planets is essential to astrophysicists trying to model the evolution of the universe. They need to assume […]

US Space Shuttle Atlantis and the Orbiter Boom Sensor System on-orbit during Mission STS-135.

Sandia National Labs completes final scan of space shuttle program

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Nine engineers from Sandia National Laboratories helped ensure Atlantis’ safety from Mission Control at Johnson Space Center as the shuttle made its final flight, marking the end of NASA’s 30-year space shuttle program. For the past 22 missions — every one since NASA’s 2005 return to space — Sandia Labs’ engineers have […]

Amateur astronomers open potential lab in outer space for planetary scientists, Sandia researcher says

ALBUQUERQUE, NM — Two amateur astronomers who independently observed and videotaped an asteroid striking the giant planet Jupiter on June 3 have opened the possibility, in effect, of a giant research lab in space for planetary scientists. According to a paper by professional astronomers, expected to be published today online by Astrophysical Journal Letters, the […]

Brian Post stands under an antenna at the ground station at Sandia National Labs during the MTI satellite’s 55,000th orbit (photo by Randy Montoya).

MTI satellite continues to serve after 10 years in orbit

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – For engineers and scientists at Sandia, the evening of Friday, March 12, marked a proud moment in exceptional service to the nation. Hundreds of miles above the Earth, the Multispectral Thermal Imager satellite reached its 10th anniversary of service as it completed its 55,000th orbit — far exceeding both its intended maximum […]

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