NNSS implements Phase I of new Science & Technology thrust areas

The NNSS has implemented Phase I of the establishment of its Science & Technology thrust areas. Each thrust area encompasses a specific segment of science and technology conducted at the NNSS. Of its seven total thrust areas, four (listed below) were included in Phase I.

“The thrust areas provide a number of benefits,” said NNSS Chief Scientist Jose Sinibaldi, who serves as program director for the Science & Technology directorate in which the thrust areas are housed. “In addition to strengthening our existing technical capabilities, they better prepare the NNSS for agile response to future national security threats.”

More specifically, they’ll enable cross-training across mission organizations and strengthen the science and technology areas at the NNSS, which will help the NNSS attract and retain topnotch talent. The thrust areas will also help growing collaborations with universities, which — in turn — injects innovation into program missions and develops STEM pipelines with critical knowledge, skills and abilities.

Phase II is slated to begin in 2022.

The Phase I thrust areas include:

Accelerator Beam Science and Target Interactions
The Accelerator Beam Science center supports critical operational needs, advanced concepts, and innovative solutions for our large linear induction accelerator Scorpius and charged particle beam science in general. Specific initiatives include methods and techniques of various forms of pulsed power and their implementation on linear induction electron accelerators and potentially other advanced machines; advanced accelerator controls and data acquisition including analysis for enhanced machine performance; diagnostics systems and methods to measure key accelerator characteristics, machine tuning, and machine reliability and maintenance needs; cross‐cutting solutions for beam science and X‐ray generation for radiographic systems supporting national security requirements; and accelerator science and technology maturation and development using integrated test stands and other complementary platforms and/or national user facilities.

Enabling Technologies for Autonomous Systems and Sensing
The center for Enabling Technologies for Autonomous Systems and Sensing supports concepts and capabilities related to intelligent machine‐based systems for critical global security and associated applications. Covering a wide range of target signatures and technologies for characterizing them, autonomous systems are required for challenging environments that need advanced engineering, low power, miniaturized forms, and specialized hardware and firmware. Uniquely coupled sensor fusion and advanced edge computing with artificial intelligence and machine deep learning support detection, identification, and sense making, to enable all facets of mission requirements. Autonomous deployment platforms, unmanned systems, and countermeasure technologies provide capabilities to mitigate hazardous environments, denied access, and difficult threats. Future integration of advanced and next generation sensing and imaging enables detection beyond state of the art and further enhances our emergency response, nonproliferation, and counter‐terrorism capabilities.

Radiographic Systems Imaging and Analysis
The Radiographic Systems Imaging and Analysis center fundamentally encompasses all aspects of X‐ray imaging supporting advanced hydrodynamic testing and other requirements needed to accomplish our mission. Core initiatives include imaging systems for gamma, X‐rays, and neutrons with associated advanced detection capabilities including data analysis, system testing, and qualification. Advanced scintillator materials and diagnostics are required to support high‐fidelity imaging. Imaging analysis techniques are foundational, and next‐generation machine learning with high‐performance computing for automated data analysis supports quantitative data analysis and reduces uncertainty. Methods, techniques, and concepts that push state‐of‐the‐art capability in radiographic imaging are required to further enhance performance of existing and future systems.

User‐Centered Remote Testing and Operations
The User‐Centered Remote Testing and Operations center encompasses a broad range of technologies and supporting functions that enable mission‐critical test and experimentation at the NNSS. Initiatives include technical infrastructure needs, such as widely accessible user‐focused information technology systems, national and international databases, and inter‐connectivity; real‐time remote data interfaces and test and experimentation control systems that enhance operational capability; underground and remote location technical operations and data distribution and analysis; geoscience foundational basis including sensor technology, high‐performance computer modeling and automated analysis for large datasets; and advanced fiber‐optic and next‐generation quantum sensing technologies.