Power NASA's Deep Space Probes

For more than 50 years, NASA’s robotic deep space probes have carried radioisotope thermoelectric generators, or RTGs (nuclear batteries) utilizing plutonium-238. The United States’ supply of plutonium-238, which fuels RTGs, is running very low. Concern exists about our ability to continue exploration without access to this material.

 

NASA Glenn has produced a more efficient power pack for the next generation space probes, but plutonium-238 is still required.

Plutonium-238 (which is NOT a bomb-making material) is a by-product of the Thorium fuel cycle and is easily separated from other isotopes in a LCMSR (Liquid Core Molten Salt Reactor.) The development and commercialization of the LCMSR and Thorium fuel cycle could provide for all of NASA’s deep space probe needs.


Powered by LCMSR By-Products

More power than can be achieved by solar panels is necessary to run the Mars Science Laboratory aka “Curiosity.” Heat from the decay of plutonium-238 (NOT a bomb-making material) generates 110 watts of electrical power to charge the rover’s batteries.

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