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Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Los Alamos's mission is to solve national security challenges through scientific excellence.

What Martian ‘halos’ tell us about habitability

Migrating silica reveals liquid water lingered longer on Red Planet Lighter-toned bedrock that surrounds fractures and comprises high concentrations of silica—called “halos”—has been found in Gale crater on Mars, indicating that the planet had liquid water much longer than previously believed. The new finding is reported in a recently published paper in Geophysical Research Letters,…

Unraveling the mysteries of lightning

By Tess Lavezzi Light When thunderstorm season rolls around and lightning streaks the sky, we likely don’t ponder the mysteries it presents. Lightning seems to be one of those things we’ve got figured out. Didn’t we learn everything we need to know when Benjamin Franklin flew his kite on a stormy day in a Pennsylvania…

Confessions of a dark matter detective

Using an observatory made of giant water barrels, particle astrophysicist Andrea Albert hopes to find the gamma-ray tracks leading back to their WIMP-y source. By Andrea Albert Fourteen thousand feet above sea level near a volcanic peak in Mexico sits a unique astronomical observatory. Instead of peering into space with a glass lens, it uses…

Feeling the Burn: Understanding how Biomass Burning Changes Climate

Each year, during the dry season, a large swath of the African countryside goes up in flames. During two distinct seasons—October through March in the northern hemisphere, and June through November in the southern hemisphere—fires are set to clear land, remove dead and unwanted vegetation and drive grazing animals to less-preferred growing areas. This is called “biomass burning,” and Africa is responsible for an estimated 30 to 50 percent of the total amount burned globally each year. Biomass burning also occurs when fires start naturally (such as after a lightning strike on the savannah), but they’re rare. Worldwide, 90 percent of biomass burning can be attributed to humans.