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10:30 am - BEG Special Seminar: Swadesh M. Mahajan, UT Austin

BEG Special Seminar: Swadesh M. Mahajan, UT Austin

  Start: June 14, 2013 at 10:30 am     End: June 14, 2013 at 11:30 am
 Location:BEG Main Conference Room, PRC
 Contact:Emily Hooks
 URL:Event Link
Title: Nuclear Energy - Green and Plentiful, Fusion-Fission Hybrids
Speaker: Swadesh M. Mahajan, Professor of Physics, Institute for Fusion Studies, the University of Texas at Austin

Video Streaming: http://mediasite.beg.utexas.edu/Media/Viewer/?peid=3408fdd39f6b491fb55113b202f9101e

**PARKING: Any visitor, without a UT Parking Permit, must obtain a PRC “Pay & Display” parking permit upon entering the campus. Please be sure to clearly display the permit on the dashboard of your vehicle. Link to maps and additional instructions: http://www.beg.utexas.edu/info/maps.php


If the world were forced to shift its energy “burden” from fossils to nuclear, will ”nuclear energy” be ready to assume this role? Can one, for example, envision an economically, environmentally and socially acceptable path, and could such a transition be engineered in near future? Can a nuclear energy dominant future be built on the foundations of the current and near term cindustrial technologies?

“Nuclear energy” must, first, demonstrate safe and acceptable technical solutions to two fundamental problems of fission power:

• The nuclear waste: transuranic isotopes that have long-term radio toxicity and biohazard, and

• The problem of limited “naturally fissile (U235)” fuel supply that must be solved by breeding fuel from fertile materials like U238 and Th232

It will be shown that a Fusion-Fission Hybrid reactor- a creative combination of fusion and fission can indeed lay the foundations of a “green “ and plentiful nuclear energy economy on time scales of less than a couple decades. Although nuclear fusion is not ready for direct energy production, recent game changing inventions, and innovations have led to the design of a workable highly compact intense fusion neutron source. In a hybrid driven by such an intense fusion neutron source, several novel fuel cycles that would be inaccessible to pure fission, become available. The resulting vastly enhanced overall nuclear capability can be readily exploited to slay the twin dragon of the “constraining” problems of fission- the problems of nuclear waste and that of limited fuel supply.

Glimpses of the conceptual/scientific new technology along with relevant applications will be given. How the fusion-fission hybrid adds a new, perhaps, crucial dimension to the quest for a vibrant nuclear future will be examined in a global energy perspective.

12:00 pm - UTIG Special Seminar: Amy McAdam, Planetary Environments Lab, NASA

UTIG Special Seminar: Amy McAdam, Planetary Environments Lab, NASA

  Start: June 19, 2013 at 12:00 pm     End: June 19, 2013 at 1:00 pm
 Location:PRC, 10100 Burnet Road, Bldg 1.603, Austin, TX 78758
 Contact:Joe Levy, joe.levy@utexas.edu , 512.475.6121
 URL:Event Link
"Investigating the Signatures of Aqueous Alteration on Mars"


The nature of the martian surface environment, and the implications for past and present alteration conditions, have important implications for understanding martian climatic history, surface weathering processes, and ultimately the possibility of past or present life. The characteristics of martian surface materials, and implications for formation environments, can be investigated using several key approaches. In this talk, I will discuss my recent work on terrestrial analogs to martian materials, as well as in situ analyses of martian surface materials from the recently landed Mars Science Laboratory (MSL) rover Curiosity.

I plan to present the results of MSL-like analyses of Mars-relevant materials carried out during several field seasons of the Arctic Mars Analog Svalbard Expedition (AMASE), as a member of the Sample Analysis at Mars (SAM) instrument team. AMASE expeditions have investigated a range of geologic settings on the arctic archipelago of Svalbard with methodologies and techniques under development for Mars missions. During AMASE, I worked with a complementary instrument setup that simulates measurements made by the MSL SAM instrument. SAM analyzes gases evolved by pyrolysis of samples, as well as atmospheric gases admitted through an atmospheric inlet. A suite of instruments inside SAM are used to carry out isotopic and chemical analyses of Martian samples, including studies of inorganic compounds and a sensitive search for volatile organic sample components, thereby investigating Martian geochemical processes and potential habitability. The results of the AMASE SAM team analyses, together with other AMASE team data, have given us valuable insight into the organic content, organic-mineral associations, and mineralogy of several analog materials. These results and interpretations are relevant to the interpretation of in situ analyses from MSL.

I also plan to give a brief overview of MSL results that will primarily center on SAM solid sample analyses, though some comparisons to other MSL instrument datasets will be included. Although MSL has analyzed many rocks and soil samples since landing in August of last year, SAM solid sample analyses have only been performed on a select few of the samples. I will discuss the results of analyses of soil materials from the Rocknest aeolian bedform, selected results from analysis of drilled powder from the rock John Klein, and preliminary implications of these results for surface alteration environments and habitability on Mars.