The Nevada Field Office (NFO) and U.S. Air Force staff recently conducted inspections of a historic rocket located at Clean Slate III on the Tonopah Test Range. Clean Slate III, a plutonium dispersal test, was part of Operation Roller Coaster and was conducted on June 9, 1963. The origin of the rocket in the photo and the time frame when it was launched are unknown. Based on interviews with TTR personnel, however, the rocket has been present at the site since at least the mid-1980s.
This morning, the White House issued the below statement regarding NNSA's recent removal of the last remaining highly enriched uranium from the Czech Republic:
Statement by NSC Spokesperson Caitlin Hayden on the Removal of Highly Enriched Uranium from the Czech Republic
Today we can announce that the United States, with the cooperation of our international partners, successfully removed 68 kilograms of highly enriched uranium (HEU) – enough material for two nuclear weapons - from the Czech Republic. The HEU was securely transported to Russia, where it will be downblended into low enriched uranium (LEU) for use in nuclear power reactors. Unlike highly enriched uranium, low enriched uranium cannot be used to make a nuclear weapon. With this shipment, the Czech Republic becomes the tenth country from which all HEU has been removed since President Obama announced the international effort to secure all vulnerable nuclear material around the world.
This achievement comes on the anniversary of President Obama’s remarks in Prague on April 5, 2009, where he stated that nuclear terrorism remains our greatest threat. The President called on the world to act with a sense of purpose and without delay to secure vulnerable nuclear material. The United States and the global community have responded with an unprecedented effort that has secured thousands of kilograms of HEU and plutonium, enough for dozens of nuclear weapons.
The removal of highly enriched uranium from the Czech Republic was the culmination of a multi-year effort by the United States’ National Nuclear Security Administration, the Czech Republic’s Nuclear Research Institute, Russia’s Federal Atomic Energy Agency, and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The United States is grateful to these partners and to the Czech and Russian governments for their outstanding cooperation.
Two senior leaders of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) today visited the Pantex Plant to tour the facility and deliver a message of support to the workers.
U.S. Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.) told an assembled group of Pantexans he was aware of the critical work done at Pantex through his role as the HASC chairman, but seeing it firsthand really made an impact.
McKeon traveled to Pantex with HASC vice chairman, U.S. Rep. Mac Thornberry, whose district includes the Pantex Plant. Thornberry talked about the challenging budget situation facing all levels of government and the importance of maintaining the capabilities of facilities like Pantex.
After taking questions from several Pantexans, the two congressmen concluded the all-hands meeting with a few final words of encouragement.
This weekend, Roadrunner, the World's Fastest Supercomputer from 2008, will be switched off but not be forgotten.
Without ceremony, the first supercomputer to reach the once elusive petaflop - one million billion calculations per second - a feat accomplished in 2008 by Roadrunner, an IBM system installed at Los Alamos National Laboratory, will be decommissioned. Advancements made possible by Roadrunner have informed current computing architectures and will help shape future designs.
During its five operational years, Roadrunner, part of NNSA’s Advanced Simulation and Computing (ASC) program, was a workhorse system providing computing power for stewardship of the U.S. nuclear deterrent, and in its early days, a wide variety of unclassified science.
Read more about Roadrunner here.
Measurements from two recent aerial flyovers to determine the presence of background and man-made radioactivity brought good news for Los Alamos County and Los Alamos National Laboratory.
The radiological surveys, conducted in August 2011 and June 2012, found that radioisotopes and their associated exposure rates are consistent with those expected from normal background radiation.
The survey provided valuable data in several areas. First, the information updates a radiological survey conducted in 1994. Secondly, the survey showed the Las Conchas fire from 2011 did not impact background radiation levels. It also provides additional confirmation that the Rendija Canyon area remains at natural background radiation levels. There is an area north of Rendija Canyon under evaluation for return to public use.
The information will be incorporated into the lab’s Long-Term Environmental Stewardship and Sustainability Strategy report.
A group of Pantex female engineers held a Smart Cookie workshop for Girl Scouts this weekend. The objective of the workshop was to foster a love of science and math in young girls who might make up the next generation of engineers at Pantex.
The Smart Cookie program started in January with a half dozen young women engineers from Pantex who decided to expose engineering to the next generation with a workshop for Girl Scouts. Since then, the number of women engineers who are involved in the project has doubled. Plans are underway to enlist experts from Pantex in math, science and information technology, for future events with the Girl Scouts.
About the photo:
Female engineers from Pantex this weekend demonstrated a scientific principle known as nucleation. The engineers used Mentos dropped into Diet Coke to demonstrate the principle. The surface texture of the Mentos causes the carbon dioxide to be explosively released.
Participants in Sandia’s Weapon Intern Program recently visited and toured NNSA's Kansas City Plant. The program, established in 1998, was created to meet Sandia's changing mission needs. Through a combination of classroom study taught by active and retired weaponeers, site visits and individual and team projects, weapon interns have honed their skills, broadened their knowledge base and expanded their network of colleagues in the nuclear weapons community.
Don Cook, NNSA’s deputy administrator for Defense Programs, last week spoke to Pantexans about the future mission of Pantex and the critical role the plant will play in maintaining the nation’s stockpile for decades to come. During the visit, Cook congratulated some of the 100-plus Pantexans who helped to secure the plant and conduct recovery operations during and after the Feb. 25 blizzard that dropped more than 19 inches on the Amarillo area.
Read more about the blizzard.
Workers at the Pantex Plant last month finished the largest concrete pour to date on the High Explosives Pressing Facility, completing the last of the elevated soffits, which are part of the roof deck/second story of the building.
The pour marked the completion of approximately 50 percent of the construction on the 45,000 square-foot facility, which will combine high explosives operations from numerous outdated buildings into one state-of-the-art facility which will help to bolster Pantex’s status as the DOE’s High Explosives Center of Excellence for HE manufacturing.
Construction of the $65 million facility is expected to be complete next year. The construction effort is being managed by the U.S Army Corps of Engineers and the design effort/plant support is being led by B&W Pantex/CH2MHill.
Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory researchers have performed record simulations using all 1,572,864 cores of Sequoia, the largest supercomputer in the world.
The simulations are the largest particle-in-cell (PIC) code simulations by number of cores ever performed. PIC simulations are used extensively in plasma physics to model the motion of the charged particles, and the electromagnetic interactions between them, that make up ionized matter.
Sequoia, a NNSA machine, is based on IBM BlueGene/Q architecture and is the first machine to exceed one million computational cores. It is also second on the list of the world’s fastest supercomputers, operating at 16.3 petaflops (16.3 quadrillion floating point operations per second). Sequoia preparing to move to classified computing in support of stockpile stewardship.
Read about Sequoia's record simulations.
About the photo:
OSIRIS simulation on Sequoia of the interaction of a fast-ignition-scale laser with a dense DT plasma. The laser field is shown in green, the blue arrows illustrate the magnetic field lines at the plasma interface and the red/yellow spheres are the laser-accelerated electrons that will heat and ignite the fuel.