50 Years of Space
Since 1943, some of the world’s smartest and most dedicated technical people have accomplished the difficult, the unexpected, and what sometimes seems impossible at Los Alamos.
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- 50 Years of Space
50 YEARS OF SPACE Creating a safer, more secure tomorrow
THE SPACE AGEThe first nuclear reactor-rocket program was launched to provide nuclear energy to propel an aircraft or rocket.
First nuclear reactor-rocket
GAMMA-RAY BURSTSDesigned and built to warn of banned nuclear tests, our Vela satellite instruments discovered cosmic gamma–ray bursts.
Satellites support science
Investigating spaceSupporting investigations in space, we created an electrical generator that obtains its power from radioactive decay: the radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG).
Enabling space missions
Bursts discoveredOur sensors aboard Vela satellites discovered gamma-ray bursts that emit as much energy in a few seconds as the Sun will emit during its entire 10-billion-year lifetime.
Detecting dying stars
Detonation detectionLos Alamos X-ray detector launched aboard GPS Satellite. The goal of these satellites was to support space–based positioning, navigation and to monitor for nuclear detonations.
Piggybacking on GPS
Missile defenseLos Alamos fired a beam of hydrogen particles in the first space test of the accelerator technology as a potential anti–missile weapon.
Space shield technology
Exploring SaturnLos Alamos developed scientific sensors, launched aboard NASA's Cassini mission that studies Saturn's atmosphere, magnetic fields, rings and diverse moons.
Water on MarsLos Alamos instruments find indications of massive amounts of water on Mars, further supported by our analysis and mapping that detected telltale signs—and that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Providing the evidence
Predicting space radiationSpace is stormy and filled with radiation that destroys space systems, including satellites. A new model helps predict hazards to steer clear of danger.
First thinking telescopeWithout human guidance, our telescope found an anomaly: the birth of stellar–size black holes, possibly the most powerful events since the Big Bang.
RAPTOR sees into space
Hand-held satellitesMiniscule satellites are inexpensive and versatile, and fit on almost anything launched into space. We built and launched four CubeSats within a few months, validating inexpensive design methodology that could withstand space radiation.
Affordable space research
Radiation belt mysteriesSpacecraft roam the harsh space environment within the Van Allen radiation belts, studying the belts’ behaviors and their Earth impacts. Discoveries rewrite textbooks.
Probe results surprising
Chemcam meets MarsWe continue to aid exploration of the Red Planet. Researchers discovered a streambed and tracked a trail of minerals that suggests water—lots of it—may have flowed.
Biosignatures in space
IBEX SATELLITEInstruments aboard NASA’s Interstellar Boundary Explorer (IBEX) mission probe the edge of our solar system, providing new panoramic views of our galaxy’s gateway.
INVISIBLE INTERACTIONS OBSERVED
Hidden dangersNew dangers require new defenses. We are experts at seeking and identifying threats in the skies, on the ground, underground and around the world.
Satellites and surveillance