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In The News:

Prof Michael T. Montgomery, Department of Meteorology
Storm Alert
USA Today "Storm Alert" article

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Free Electron Laser and Rail Gun:
Technology for Incoming Missile Defense

By NPS staff. As the technology in the study of electromagnetic rail guns and free electron lasers has evolved, NPS's Electric Weapons Center has adapted vigorously to stay abreast of these developments and to incorporate new technologies with potential weapon system applications into research benefiting the Navy and the Department of Defense.

A free electron laser directed energy weapon system holds the promise of satisfying shipboard self-defense requirements on Navy vessels because of the potential for high-power operation and the accessibility according to Colson.

"One megawatt of focused laser power can burn through a liter of a missile's material in about two seconds," said Professor William B. Colson, Director of the NPS Electric Weapons Center, explaining the effectiveness of a free electron laser in a presentation to Vice Adm. John B. Nathman, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations, Warfare Requirements and Programs.

"I believe this type of laser can be compact enough to fit aboard Navy ships and still be powerful and accurate enough to kill a missile homing-in to destroy its target," Colson adds.

As an example of the efficiency of an electric weapon, a free electron laser would use about three gallons of the ship's fuel to destroy an incoming missile - the cost is about $3 per gallon of the ship's fuel used to destroy the target.

Colson emphasized to Nathman the ability of electric weapons to fit the Navy's perceived need to be able to identify, pinpoint, and take out targets far enough away from the ship to prevent damage to the ship's assets.

Example: an electric weapon that destroys an incoming missile.

"The question remains, can this be scaled to the size of a total missile defense system? Can this weapon system be evolved to a much larger defense scenario outside of shipboard incoming missile defense?"

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Faculty News:

Defense University Instrumentation Program Competition Winners

Winners have been identified in the FY 2009 Competition under the Defense University Research Instrumentation Program (ONR-DURIP). Having not one but two GSEAS faculty members recognized is exceptional given the national competitiveness of these awards.

Professor Douglas Horner of Mechanical and Astronautical Engineering (MAE) is recognized for his proposal "Non-Linear Surveillance and Docking Station Rendezvous with AUVs"


Professor Jamie MacMahan of Oceanography (OC) is recognized for her proposal "Shallow water Autonomous Vehicles"

NASA honors NPS professor - Developed program that produced 34 astronauts - more than any other university.

Dr. Rudolph "Rudy" Panholzer, chairman of the Space Systems Group, was the recipient of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Distinguished Service Medal, the highest award to a non-government individual.

Panholzer was recognized for furthering joint efforts between NASA and NPS (Note: In 1995, Panholzer established the NASA Chair at NPS in honor of Navy Capt. Michael Smith, pilot of the Challenger space shuttle and an NPS graduate-astronaut) and the development of the PANSAT satellite, a program that involved 52 students' master's theses between March 1989 and the satellite's launch in 1995.

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Ship Shock Simulation:

An example of one of our research project that is gaining a lot of attention from the Navy -- Ship shock computer and modeling simulations on two US Navy ships:

  • USS Winston S. Churchill (DDG 81)
  • USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53)
Why? Ship Shock trials (using explosives and etc.) are necessary for evaluating the vulnerability and survivability of a ship's hull in a combat environment. However, shock trials are very expensive, require extensive planning and coordination, and hazardous to the marine environment. As a result, computer simulation and modeling are being viewed as an alternative, but they too pose a problem—too complex and time consuming.

Until now: Using research grants from the Navy, NPS has developed a computer modeling and simulation that is faster and less labor intensive with amazing accuracy. The results mirror actual trials conducted on the above two ships.

Future? NPS work on ship shock trial modeling and simulation has been changing the Navy direction for ship shock qualification. This may bring about potential savings of over $100M for the Navy.

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GSEAS Distinguished Lecture Series

Upcoming GSEAS Distinguished Lecture Series Event:

Professor Peter LaxAbel Laureate Professor Peter Lax of New York University will present a distinguished lecture on the 19th of March. Professor Peter Lax is a pioneering scholar in scientific computing, the mathematical characterization of nonlinear waves called "solitons" (that model tsunamis, fiber optic communication, lasers) and shock waves in high speed aerodynamics as well as a number of numerical schemes (Lax-Wendroff) that have become part of standard graduate education. Professor Lax is one of the most influential American applied mathematicians of modern times and many of the leading applied mathematicians in prominent universities were his PhD students. Professor Peter Lax is the winner of 2005 Abel Prize (Math equivalent of Nobel Prize created by the Norwegian Academy of Science and Letters ). He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences, winner of Steele Prize, National Medal of Science and numerous other honors and honorary doctoral degrees). Impact of Professor Lax's work can be seen in several NPS faculty research works within GSEAS (MA, PH, OC, MAE, to name a few). Professor Lax is proposing to talk about John von Neumann, his life and his ideas. John von Neumann invented the modern computers and the interaction between these two scholars and the birth of scientific computing and the HPC revolution owe their origins to the Manhattan Project in Los Alamos:

Past GSEAS Distinguished Lecture Series Events:

Professor John Forbes Nash, Jr., at NPSNobel Laureate Professor John Forbes Nash, Jr. of Princeton University visited NPS during the week of Feb 15-21st and presented a GSEAS Distinguished Lecture on the 19th of February 2009 entitled "Cooperative Games and the Agencies Method."  U.S. Navy photos and photo-illustration by Javier Chagoya/watercolor courtesy of Mahlon M. Coleman.
Professor Charles TownesNobel Laureate Professor Charles H. Townes of the University of California, Berkeley visited NPS 15th of January 2009 and presented a GSEAS Distinguished Lecture entitled "Interactions of the Military with Scientific Discovery, Including the Laser."
Professor Herbert KroemerNobel Laureate Professor Herbert Kroemer of the University of California, Santa Barbara visited NPS during the week of 22-24 October 2008 and presented a GSEAS Distinguished Lecture entitled "Heterostructures: From Physics to Devices and Back."

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