Friday, April 08, 2005
ROGER SNODGRASS, email@example.com, Monitor Assistant Editor
The world's most powerful x-ray machine accomplished a task last week at Los Alamos National Laboratory, capturing an image of the inner workings of a mock-nuclear explosion.
The experiment, using the first axis of the Dual Axis Radiographic Hydrodynamic Test Facility (DARHT), provided diagnostic information on weapons codes and the effects of aging on the nation's nuclear stockpile.
The laboratory reported that the initial analysis showed outstanding data return on all channels.
"The test was the most recent in a series of full hydrotests and numerous other explosive tests," said laboratory spokesman Jim Danneskiold on Wednesday. "Accomplishing these hydrodynamic tests is a major step forward in meeting key milestones in the stockpile stewardship program."
The tests are part of the lab's mission to participate in the certification of the reliability of nuclear weapons without nuclear tests.
The experiment provided data that will predict how long existing weapons can persist in a useable condition.
The test involved a mock-up of the W-76 warhead, which is carried by Trident submarines. The W-76 is often called the backbone of the nation's nuclear deterrent.
The next test in the series is scheduled for the summer.
Over the next few months, according to a laboratory statement, the Los Alamos team will compare the radiographic image with computer models, closely examine any differences and refine the models so they more accurately represent weapon behavior.
"The Los Alamos success of Hydroshot 3625 is a testament to the integrity and technical excellence of Los Alamos stewardship of the W-76," said Everet Beckner, deputy administrator for defense programs with the National Nuclear Security Administration in a prepared statement. "I'm extremely pleased with the great work you've done."
When its second axel is completed, DARHT will provide a series of four high-resolution images, one of which will enable a stereoscopic perspective.
To capture the images, electron accelerators produce X-ray beams that peer inside an exploding object, creating a picture of components moving more than 2,000 miles per hour.
The high-speed "flash" takes place in sixty-billionth of a secon freezing the moment for detailed technical evaluation.
These are all good ways to take pictures of certain things of certain densities in certain time frames. None of them are good for everything but all of them are good for something. When management and staff forget that they are PART of the system and not the ENTIRE system then you get abuses like every small project getting raided to pay for DARHT.
A lack of understanding of the basic physics of materials cannot be compensated for by shooting complex, integrated experiments. That is unless the complex, integrated experiment goes nuclear.