NASA Grant Awarded to Michael Denton

Michael Denton, an NMC researcher, and Lauren Blum, a scientist with NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, have been awarded a NASA grant to study plasma structure and composition as a driver of wave growth in the inner magnetosphere.

Why is this important in space science research? Electromagnetic (EM ) waves accelerate electron particles to high energies which can cause damage to satellites. Electromagnetic Ion-Cyclotron (EMIC) waves are a specific type of EM wave that is known to cause the loss of electrons. Scientists don't fully understand this phenomenon, but are working to understand where EMIC waves occur in order to know where electrons may be lost and predict this loss in the future.

Thus, understanding EM waves is important for the prediction and mitigation of the potentially damaging environment that satellites operate in.

Recent studies of EMIC waves reveal a dependence of the waves' spatial extent on magnetic local time (MLT), wave frequency, and L shell around Earth.  Various hypotheses have been proposed to explain some of these patterns, including different sources (and spatial extents) of ion anisotropy on the day versus night side, compositional variations throughout the inner magnetosphere, or cold plasma density structure.

Denton and colleagues seek to understand how these things all tie in together. Composition, or the density of the hydrogen/oxygen/helium ions, is predicted to play a big role in growth of the waves. This work aims to link the composition changes up with the patterns seen in the waves, and subsequently in the electron distributions. This is something that has not been explored yet.

Multipoint measurements in the inner magnetosphere, such as from satellite missions like the NASA Van Allen Probes, can allow the spatial and temporal evolution of various particle populations and wave modes to be better understood.


Research at NMC to Convert Algae to Affordable Fuel

Photo by Andy Stiny, Santa Fe New Mexican

Molecular biologist Amanda Barry and a team at Los Alamos National Laboratory's Bio-energy and biome Sciences group are conducting research on a specific strain of algae in order to determine if it can be produced quickly and at low cost. If so, this algae hold potential to be a source of renewable fuel that can economically compete with fossil fuels.

This research takes place at the New Mexico Consortium's Biolab in Los Alamos. Here researchers are really focusing on algae due tot their ability to produce refinery-compatible diesel and jet fuel precursors.

If successful, this new source of renewable biofuels will reduce our dependence on fossil fuels, contrbute towards clean energy solutions, and contribute to domestic job growth.

To read the entire Santa Fe New Mexican article see:

Los Alamos lab researching algae to convert to affordable fuel




Amanda Barry: Algae to Fuel Cars



July 17, 2018  Amanda Barry, a Los Alamos National Laboratory scientist and affiliate of the New Mexico Consortium, published her work on algae using raw plants as a carbon energy source. This research has shown that the microalgae, Auxenochlorella protothecoides, is capable of directly degrading and using non-food plant substrates for improved cell growth and lipid produciont. This is useful for boosting the algae's potential value as a biofuel.

Congratulations to Amanda and all the researchers involved including the other NMC affiliates who worked on this project: Shawn Starkenburg, Nilusha Sudasinghe, and Jenna Schambach.

Publication: Characterization of plant carbon substrate utilization by Auxenochlorella protothecoides. Brian W. Vogler, Shawn Starkenburg, Nilusha Sudasinghe, Jenna Y. Schambach, Joseph A. Rolin, Sivakumar Pattathil, Amanda N. Barry. Algal Research 34C. 2018. 37-48.




Panagiotis Lymperopoulos: Phytochrome and Phytohormones: Working in Tandem for Plant Growth and Development

July 28, 2018.  New Mexico Consortium Biolab researchers, Panagiotis Lymperopoulos, Joseph Msanne and  Roel Rabara, have recently published their work "Phytochrome and Phytohormones: Working in Tandem for Plant Growth and Development" in the July 2018 issues of Frontiers in Plant Science, section Plant Physiology.

This publication is a review that presents a representative regulatory model, highlights the successes achieved in employing novel strategies to dissect the levels of interaction and provide perspective for future research on phytochrome-phytohormones relationships toward facilitating plant growth, development, and function under abiotic-biotic stresses.

Publication: Phytochrome and Phytohormones: Working in Tandem for Plant Growth and Development. Panagiotis Lymperopoulos,  Joseph Msanne and  Roel Rabara. Front. Plant Sci., 27 July 2018.


Debardeleben and Blanchard's Work Featured in WIRED!


Scientists have learned that cosmic ray neutrons coming from space slam in to the processors of supercomputers and cause them to have memory errors or even to crash. This has been a problem sicne Seymour Cray built a supercomputer and gave it to Los Alamos National Laboratory for a 6 month trial in the 1970s.

Engineers now know to account for space particles when they are creating hardware and software. Nathan Debardeleben and Sean Blanchard, of the High Performance Computing Design group and the Ultra Scale Research Center, have been working hard at how to improve supercomputers so that cosmic particles do not become a problem.

Now, before even installing new equipment, Blanchard and Debardeleben test it by placing the equipment into a beam of neutrons. They bombard it with many more particles than will typically rain down from space and will make it crash. One way the supercomputers can protect themselves is to crash intentionally at certain checkpoints while saving data. This way not all the data is lost. Besides running tests and making these kinds of improvements, DeBardeleben and Blanchard also place neutron detectors inside the supercomputer in order to measure the strength of the cosmic particles and to learn more about the lifetime of these electronics.

To read more about this important research on protecting our supercomputers read the full WIRED article: Cosmic Ray Showers Crash Supercomputers. Here's What to Do About It.



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