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3d prnited lunar rover wheel based on a NASA design

Researchers at the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, in collaboration with NASA, are taking additive manufacturing to the final frontier by 3D printing the same kind of wheel as the design used by NASA for its robotic lunar rover, demonstrating the technology for specialized parts needed for space exploration.

Plutonium oxide is loaded onto a truck for shipping. Adam Parkison/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

In June, ORNL hit a milestone not seen in more than three decades: producing a production-quality amount of plutonium-238

NASA scientist Andrew Needham used the MARS neutron imaging instrument at Oak Ridge National Laboratory to study moon rock samples brought back from the Apollo missions. Credit: Jeremy Rumsey/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

How did we get from stardust to where we are today? That’s the question NASA scientist Andrew Needham has pondered his entire career.

Physicist Charles Havener uses the NASA end station at ORNL’s Multicharged Ion Research Facility to simulate the origin of X-ray emissions from space. Credit: Carlos Jones/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Scientists are using Oak Ridge National Laboratory’s Multicharged Ion Research Facility to simulate the cosmic origin of X-ray emissions resulting when highly charged ions collide with neutral atoms and molecules, such as helium and gaseous hydrogen.

Oak Ridge National Laboratory researchers built an Earth-to-space communications system to work with private and government partners with the goal of directly connecting data downlinks to high performance computing. Credit: Genevieve Martin/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

Oak Ridge National Laboratory is debuting a small satellite ground station that uses high-performance computing to support automated detection of changes to Earth’s landscape.

Samples of four unique materials hitched a ride to space as part of an effort by ORNL scientists to evaluate how each fares under space conditions. Credit: Zac Ward/ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

To study how space radiation affects materials for spacecraft and satellites, Oak Ridge National Laboratory scientists sent samples to the International Space Station. The results will inform design of radiation-resistant magnetic and electronic systems.

Mars Rover 2020

More than 50 current employees and recent retirees from ORNL received Department of Energy Secretary’s Honor Awards from Secretary Jennifer Granholm in January as part of project teams spanning the national laboratory system. The annual awards recognized 21 teams and three individuals for service and contributions to DOE’s mission and to the benefit of the nation.

A 3D printed thermal protection shield, produced by ORNL researchers for NASA, is part of a cargo spacecraft bound for the International Space Station. The shield was printed at the Department of Energy’s Manufacturing Demonstration Facility at ORNL. Credit: ORNL, U.S. Dept. of Energy

A research team at Oak Ridge National Laboratory have 3D printed a thermal protection shield, or TPS, for a capsule that will launch with the Cygnus cargo spacecraft as part of the supply mission to the International Space Station.

ORNL and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory scientists studied the formation of amorphous ice like the exotic ice found in interstellar space and on Jupiter’s moon, Europa. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

Researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory successfully created amorphous ice, similar to ice in interstellar space and on icy worlds in our solar system. They documented that its disordered atomic behavior is unlike any ice on Earth.

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.