• April 15, 2024

NASA Sets Its Eyes On The Nuclear Reactors For Future Power Generation When In Space

NASA has declared on using the latest style of the nuclear generator which can be permanently fixed on the lunar outposts or become a part of the deep-space missions in the next few decades. The solar system exploration demands for more of a power source for the landing, examination, and launching purposes. The plan to use solar radiations to produce ample power may drop off when the inverse of the distance to the Sun is taken.

However, the NASA’s Juno mission had huge solar panels fixed on the spacecraft for making it possible to venture outside the asteroid belt by using only the solar energy as the source for power generation. A new strategy is to use nuclear power instead of the solar for more power supply but the limited plutonium-238 supply and the use of heat from its decay generates only 200 Watts of electricity which may be enough for the robot but not for the other duties. The earlier Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs) and current Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (MMRTGs) are being used for the solar system venture. A Kilopower named small fission reactor has been developed by NASA so as to at least generate 10 kilowatts of electricity for up to 10 years. The idea of broadening the horizons in terms of energy production is to find a source which can sustain even in the extreme environments. A portable nuclear power for the mission to the Moon is not a bad option.

The Glenn Research Center along with the Los Alamos National Laboratory are the pioneers behind the kilowatt prototype which is the uranium reactor core. The Nevada National Security Site will conduct a full-power test. The conditions on the different planets are different; hence there is a need for a common source of energy. Some previous generators have ended in a tragedy but Kilopower seems to outdo all. The Stirling engine of the current reactor is sure to give it someplace in the future planned missions including Deep Space Gateway, nuclear-powered drone to explore Titan, and so on.

According to the U.S. Vice President Mike Pence, space has always been a military realm which has not yet been weaponized. However, the modernization and the recent exploration proves that space can also turn out to be a war ground many nations willing to dominate the space world.

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