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Two LLNL physicists honored for international collaboration

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) physicists Hye-Sook Park and George Swadling, along with Anna Grassi of France’s Sorbonne University and former Lawrence Fellow Frederico Fiuza of Portugal’s Técnico Lisboa, received the 2024 Lev D. Landau and Lyman Spitzer Jr. Award for Outstanding Contributions to Plasma Physics. The award is jointly sponsored by the Plasma…

LLNL gamma-ray sensor has the best resolution

It’s official. An instrument designed and built by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers is the highest-resolution gamma ray sensor that has ever flown in space. The Livermore high-purity germanium (HPGe) gamma ray sensor is an essential part of a larger gamma-ray spectrometer (GRS) built in collaboration with researchers from Johns Hopkins Applied…

Magnesium oxide undergoes dynamic transition when it comes to super-Earth exoplanets

Researchers from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) and Johns Hopkins University have unlocked new secrets about the interiors of super-Earth exoplanets, potentially revolutionizing our understanding of these distant worlds. The focus of this work, magnesium oxide (MgO), a crucial component of Earth’s lower mantle, is believed to play a similar role in the…

FAA awards first approval for drone swarm testing

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL) Autonomous Sensors team has received the Federal Aviation Administration’s (FAA’s) first and — to date — only certificate of authorization (COA) allowing autonomous drone swarming exercises on the Lab main campus. These flights will test swarm controls and sensor payloads used in a variety of national security applications…

Mystery of puffy exoplanet solved

A recent study of the atmosphere of the exoplanet WASP-107b suggests tidal heating is responsible for the exoplanet’s inflated nature and reveals a previously unseen combination of molecules in an exoplanet. A Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) scientist and international collaborators have characterized the atmosphere of the exoplanet, WASP-107b, using a…

Lab to provide optical payload for upcoming U.S. Space Force mission

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL) Space Program is now building an optical space domain awareness payload for an upcoming mission by the U.S. Space Force. The planned mission, known as VICTUS HAZE, will be a tactically responsive space mission to demonstrate the ability to rapidly characterize an on-orbit threat. The U.S. Space Force selected Long Beach,…

LLNL Pandora SmallSat mission clears major NASA milestone on the path toward launch

Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory’s (LLNL) Pandora SmallSat mission recently passed NASA’s critical design review: a major milestone for the mission to continue its journey toward launch. The Pandora SmallSat mission will study planets beyond our solar system, known as exoplanets, and their stars. “This is a major milestone for the mission and a huge accomplishment…

New nuclear deflection simulations advance planetary defense against asteroid threats

Researchers at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have developed a modeling tool for assessing the potential use of a nuclear device to defend the planet against catastrophic asteroid impacts. The research, published today in the Planetary Science Journal, introduces a novel approach to simulating the energy deposition from a nuclear device on an asteroid's…

LLNL’s prototype telescope now fully operational aboard the International Space Station

When SpaceX’s Dragon spacecraft docked with the International Space Station (ISS) on March 16, it delivered several thousand pounds of supplies for the crew as well as new hardware. The hardware included the U.S. Space Force’s Space Test Program Houston 9 (STP-H9) platform, which houses a prototype telescope designed and built by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's…

#YourPlaceInSpace: LLNL planetary defender promotes career opportunities in the federal space workforce

Planetary defense physicist Megan Bruck Syal on Wednesday represented Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) at “Space STEM Task Force Pathways to the Federal Space Workforce,” an outreach event hosted by the National Science Foundation. Multiple federal government agencies came together in a virtual interactive session to provide information for students, early…

Prototype telescope designed by LLNL researchers launched to the International Space Station

A prototype telescope designed and built by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers has been launched from Cape Canaveral, Fla., to the International Space Station (ISS). Known as the Stellar Occultation Hypertemporal Imaging Payload (SOHIP), the telescope uses LLNL patented-monolithic optics technology on a gimbal to observe and measure atmospheric…

High-fidelity simulation offers insight into 2013 Chelyabinsk meteor

On the morning of Feb. 15, 2013, a small asteroid exploded over Chelyabinsk, Russia, sending a loud shockwave and sonic boom across the region, damaging buildings and leaving around 1,200 people injured. The resulting meteor, with a diameter of approximate 20 meters (roughly the size of a six-story building), was one of the largest to be detected breaking up in the Earth’s…

Study looks at velocity impact to asteroid Dimorphos

The first peer-reviewed results from NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission were published Wednesday by Nature, including contributions from LLNL’s planetary defense team. The DART spacecraft executed a successful hypervelocity impact of 150-meter asteroid Dimorphos on Sept. 26, 2022. Analysis by Earth-based telescopes determined that the impact…

Meet Kerianne Pruett, neurodiverse spacecraft systems engineer at LLNL

California native Kerianne Pruett started at LLNL in 2019 as an intern, and now works as a spacecraft systems engineer, matrixed to the Physics Division. At the Laboratory, Pruett utilizes data science, machine learning, and high-performance computing to answer questions about dark matter, dark energy, and space domain awareness.

LLNL leads new DART Mission paper on inferring asteroid material properties from deflection test

Today at 4:14 p.m. (PDT), NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) Mission will execute the first-ever asteroid-deflection test by crashing into asteroid Dimorphos. Traveling at ~6 km/s with a mass of ~600 kg, the DART spacecraft will transfer enough momentum for the imparted change in velocity to be detectable from Earth-based telescopes. However, there is…

LLNL-led paper reveals spacecraft geometry effects on impact simulations for NASA’s DART Mission

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft will crash into asteroid Dimorphos on Sept. 26, executing the first asteroid deflection test that has been years in the planning. Dimorphos, at 150 meters across, is the “moonlet” of a binary asteroid system, orbiting the larger companion asteroid, Didymos (800 meters). The momentum of the ~600 kg spacecraft,…

Lawrence Livermore optics used to spot elusive aurora on Red Planet

The United Arab Emirates' (UAE) Mars mission that launched about a year ago has recently captured the most detailed images of auroras in the Martian sky. The optics used to capture these images include a silicon carbide-coated mirror and diffraction grating for the Emirates Mars Ultraviolet Spectrometer (EMUS) that were developed by researchers at Lawrence Livermore…

LLNL’s Tactically Responsive Launch-2 payload launched into orbit

When the U.S. Space Force’s Tactically Responsive Launch-2 (TacRL-2) mission launched from Vandenberg Space Force Base on June 13, it carried a payload designed and built in record time by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL). LLNL provided a three-mirror reflective telescope and sensor for the payload, which they designed, integrated, tested and delivered within…

LLNL/Tyvak space telescope goes into orbit

Thousands of images of Earth and space have been taken by a compact space imaging payload developed by Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers and its collaborator Tyvak Nano-Satellite Systems. Known as GEOStare2, the payload has two space telescopes that together have taken more than 4,500 pictures for space domain awareness, astronomy and Earth…

Lab launches interdisciplinary Space Science Institute

What are the next world-class, game-changing concepts and technologies that will address the most important questions in astrophysics or planetary science? Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) researchers will soon be better equipped to answer this question with the launch this month of a new Space Science Institute (SSI), intended to boost cross-discipline…