- Conference date: 12-16 February 2006
- Location: Albuquerque, New Mexico (USA)
Over the past five decades numerous studies have identified nuclear energy as an enhancing or enabling technology for planetary surface exploration missions. This includes both radioisotope and fission sources for providing both heat and electricity. Nuclear energy sources were used to provide electricity on Apollo missions 12, 14, 15, 16, and 17, and on the Mars Viking landers. Very small nuclear energy sources were used to provide heat on the Mars Pathfinder, Spirit, and Opportunity rovers. Research has been performed at NASA MSFC to help assess potential issues associated with surface nuclear energy sources, and to generate data that could be useful to a future program. Research areas include System Integration, use of Regolith as Radiation Shielding, Waste Heat Rejection, Surface Environmental Effects on the Integrated System, Thermal Simulators, Surface System Integration / Interface / Interaction Testing, End‐to‐End Breadboard Development, Advanced Materials Development, Surface Energy Source Coolants, and Planetary Surface System Thermal Management and Control. This paper provides a status update on several of these research areas.
- Planetary surfaces
- Advanced materials
- Radiation monitoring
- Radiation shielding
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