CPA Postdoc L(a)unch- June 16

Friday, June 16, 2023
12:00pm to 1:00pm
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Dr. Charline Fouchier, EAS

A closer look at Beirut's explosion

Dr. Drew Miles, PMA

Astrophysics with suborbital NASA missions

Lunch will be provided starting 11:45 AM!


What happened in the port of Beirut in August 2020, and what did we learn?
Beirut's explosion is a widely known tragedy caused by ammonium nitrate. While many investigations have been conducted to understand the molecule behaviors better, it is still unclear how the ammonium nitrate can detonate in an unconfined environment while heated by fire. This talk presents an investigation of Beirut's disaster published just after the explosion, contributing to the research effort on improving industrial process safety.
A quick summary of the state of the art on nitrate ammonium will be given, followed by an analysis of the events just before the Beirut accident, with a proposed scenario that could have led to the explosion. In the second part, post-accident conventional methods used in industrial safety will be explained and used to estimate the explosion energy. The accident has been highly mediatized, and videos have brought unprecedented insights into the disaster. The images will be used to estimate the blast propagation speed, and the resulting estimation of the explosion energy will be compared with other methods.
Finally, a conclusion will compare our theoretical knowledge with what actually happened in Beirut.

Astrophysics with suborbital NASA missions
Abstract: The NASA suborbital program allows astrophysics instruments access to space and
near-space environments for a fraction of the cost of large satellites. These suborbital
missions, including rocket-powered payloads and high-altitude balloons, are used for
developing technologies for satellites, performing cutting-edge science observations, and
training students and early-career researchers for future leadership roles. In this talk, I will
discuss the advantages of suborbital missions, show several examples of successful
programs, and present in more detail a specific project: the Faint Intergalactic-medium
Redshifted Emission Balloon (FIREBall), led by Caltech's Space Astrophysics Lab.

For more information, please contact Sol A Lee, Yupeng Zhang, Simon Mahler, and Marianne Aellen by email at [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected]; [email protected].