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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…

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…

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…

Kepler, don't give up on the hunt for exomoons

The Kepler spacecraft has been prolific in its search for planets outside our solar system, known as exoplanets, discovering thousands since its launch in 2009. But the hunt for moons orbiting these exoplanets, or exomoons, is vastly more challenging. While no exomoons have been found to date, a new study shows that the search is not futile. Researchers have demonstrated…

Laboratory researchers find Earth composed of different materials than primitive meteorites

Scientists from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) have found that, contrary to popular belief, the Earth is not comprised of the same material found in primitive meteorites (also known as chondrites). This is based on the determination that the abundance of several neodymium (Nd) isotopes are different in the Earth and in chondritic meteorites. A long-standing…

Team tracks core of massive object in universe

International scientists have identified the dynamics of the core of one of the most massive objects in the known universe, bringing insight into the cosmology of clusters of galaxies. The Hitomi collaboration, in which Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientist Greg Brown is a member, found that the turbulent motion of the intracluster gas in the Perseus cluster is…

LLNL researchers garner two contracts for rocket propulsion, space launch vehicle work

Two recent contracts worth nearly $1.5 million have brought the Laboratory back into the rocket development business.The last Livermore designed and fabricated rocket vehicle, powered by an LLNL engine, was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in 1994. It was conceived and designed by aerospace engineer John Whitehead and his team, which included collaborators from…

NASA taps Livermore photon scientists for heat-shield research

Researchers in Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory's NIF & Photon Science Directorate are working with NASA Ames Research Center at Moffet Field, California on the development of technology to simulate re-entry effects on the heat shield for the Orion spacecraft, NASA's next crewed spaceship. Orion is designed to carry astronauts beyond low Earth orbit to deep-space…

Lawrence Livermore 'space cops' to help control traffic in space

A team of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory scientists are using mini-satellites that work as "space cops" to help control traffic in space. The scientists used a series of six images over a 60-hour period taken from a ground-based satellite to prove that it is possible to refine the orbit of another satellite in low earth orbit."Eventually our satellite will be…

Meteorite made up of rare early solar system material

It looked like a fireball in the sky. It created a sonic boom. It vaporized upon entering the atmosphere. It's all of the above: The Sutter's Mill Meteorite had the force of 4 kilotons of TNT upon descent and spilled samples of itself over the towns of Columa and Lotus in northern California when it hit Earth last spring. And now a consortium of scientists including…

Livermore students speak live with astronauts in space

Students at Livermore's Junction Avenue School had an opportunity that was "out of this world." They got the chance on Wednesday to talk with three astronauts via an in-flight education downlink from the International Space Station (ISS). The entire school's student body -- from kindergarten to 8th grade -- assembled in two locations to watch the videoconference. "What a…

Putting the squeeze on planets outside our solar system

LIVERMORE, Calif. -- Just as graphite can transform into diamond under high pressure, liquid magmas may similarly undergo major transformations at the pressures and temperatures that exist deep inside Earth-like planets. Using high-powered lasers, scientists at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and collaborators discovered that molten magnesium silicate undergoes a…

Oldest objects in solar system indicate a turbulent beginning

LIVERMORE, Calif. -- Scientists have found that calcium, aluminum-rich inclusions (CAIs), some of the oldest objects in the solar system, formed far away from our sun and then later fell back into the mid-plane of the solar system. The findings may lead to a greater understanding of how our solar system and possibly other solar systems formed and evolved. CAIs, roughly…

New pictures show fourth planet in giant version of our solar system

Astronomers have discovered a fourth giant planet, joining three others that, in 2008, were the subject of the first-ever pictures of a planetary system orbiting another star other than our sun. The solar system, discovered by a team from Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory and the National Research Council of Canada (NRC) Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics with…