Curiosity, the NASA Mars vehicle uses nuclear power source that lasts many years | ahmed |

NASA's Mars Science Laboratory mission, which landed safety on Mars August 6, has the potential to be the most productive Mars surface mission in history. That's due in part to its nuclear heat and power source. All the scientific instruments will get their lifeblood from a radioisotope power system assembled and tested at Idaho National Laboratory (INL). The Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG) is the latest "space battery" that can reliably power a deep space mission for many years. The RTG device provides a continuous source of heat and power for the rover's instruments. NASA has used nuclear generators to safely and reliably power 26 missions over the past 50 years. New generators like the one destined for Mars are painstakingly assembled and extensively tested at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) before heading to space. This power system will enable Curiosity to complete its ambitious expedition in Mars' extreme temperatures and seasons. The power system provides about 110 watts of electricity and can run continuously for many years. The nuclear fuel is protected by multiple layers of safety features that have each undergone rigorous testing under varied accident scenarios.



Via Dr. Stefan Gruenwald