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The Perseverance rover

On Feb. 18, the world will be watching as NASA’s Perseverance rover makes its final descent into Jezero Crater on the surface of Mars. Mars 2020 is the first NASA mission that uses plutonium-238 produced at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

A selfie from the Curiosity rover as it explores the surface of Mars. Like many spacecraft, Curiosity uses a radioisotope power system to help fuel its mission. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/MSSS

Radioactive isotopes power some of NASA’s best-known spacecraft. But predicting how radiation emitted from these isotopes might affect nearby materials is tricky

ORNL researchers developed a quantum, or squeezed, light approach for atomic force microscopy that enables measurement of signals otherwise buried by noise. Credit: Raphael Pooser/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Researchers at ORNL used quantum optics to advance state-of-the-art microscopy and illuminate a path to detecting material properties with greater sensitivity than is possible with traditional tools.

This photo shows the interior of the vessel of the General Atomics DIII-D National Fusion Facility in San Diego, where ORNL researchers are testing the suitability of tungsten to armor the inside of a fusion device. Credit: General Atomics

The inside of future nuclear fusion energy reactors will be among the harshest environments ever produced on Earth. What’s strong enough to protect the inside of a fusion reactor from plasma-produced heat fluxes akin to space shuttles reentering Earth’s atmosphere?

Researchers at Oak Ridge National Laboratory shed new light on elusive chemical processes at the liquid-liquid interface during solvent extraction of cobalt (dark blue). Credit: Michelle Lehman/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Real-time measurements captured by researchers at ORNL provide missing insight into chemical separations to recover cobalt, a critical raw material used to make batteries and magnets for modern technologies.

ORNL’s Drew Elliott served as a major collaborator in upgrading the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory’s Lithium Tokamak Experiment-Beta. Credit: Robert Kaita, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

Lithium, the silvery metal that powers smart phones and helps treat bipolar disorders, could also play a significant role in the worldwide effort to harvest on Earth the safe, clean and virtually limitless fusion energy that powers the sun and stars.

Pu-238 pellet drawing

After its long journey to Mars beginning this summer, NASA’s Perseverance rover will be powered across the planet’s surface in part by plutonium produced at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

The CrossVis application includes a parallel coordinates plot (left), a tiled image view (right) and other interactive data views. Credit: Chad Steed/Oak Ridge National Laboratory, U.S. Dept. of Energy

From materials science and earth system modeling to quantum information science and cybersecurity, experts in many fields run simulations and conduct experiments to collect the abundance of data necessary for scientific progress.

Sergei Kalinin

Five researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory have been named ORNL Corporate Fellows in recognition of significant career accomplishments and continued leadership in their scientific fields.

Juergen Rapp

Juergen Rapp, a distinguished R&D staff scientist in ORNL’s Fusion Energy Division in the Nuclear Science and Engineering Directorate, has been named a fellow of the American Nuclear Society