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Next Mars Rover to use nuclear battery

BrownTown

Diamond Member
Dec 1, 2005
5,314
0
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Might be old news, but I jsut was that the next Mars rover is gonna be using a nuclear battery. This has been suggested often in he past, and used several times before, but enviromental people always complain about it since if the rocket blows up your gonna have radioactive material raining down. So, what do yall think about using a nuclear battery on a rover? On one side it gives you FAR more energy than solar panels, on the other hand if the launch is unsuccessfull nuclear material could possibly rain down on Florida, or in the Atlantic ocean.
 

Strk

Lifer
Nov 23, 2003
10,199
4
76
You will probably get very little disagreement on this issue on this board, but as a whole, people in general will start shouting "Chernobyl."
 

Martin

Lifer
Jan 15, 2000
29,179
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Originally posted by: BrownTown
Might be old news, but I jsut was that the next Mars rover is gonna be using a nuclear battery. This has been suggested often in he past, and used several times before, but enviromental people always complain about it since if the rocket blows up your gonna have radioactive material raining down. So, what do yall think about using a nuclear battery on a rover? On one side it gives you FAR more energy than solar panels, on the other hand if the launch is unsuccessfull nuclear material could possibly rain down on Florida, or in the Atlantic ocean.
Not many people have a problem with that...
 

wazzledoozle

Golden Member
Apr 14, 2006
1,814
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Failure of the launch vehicle isnt going to magically vaporize all of the nuclear fuel, to sustain combustion it has to be in an extremely strong container. If anything, the top capsule will just sink into the depths of the ocean somewhere, radioactive material contained.
 

Madwand1

Diamond Member
Jan 23, 2006
3,309
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Haven't such devices (a) already been hurled into space for a long time (b) exploded in the atmosphere and generated datable radiation months later (c) killed people (in ground-based mishandling) ?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radioisotope_thermoelectric_generator

I have no particular fondness for this technology, but neither do I aim to criticize it specifically, nor do I claim that such issues are not worth discussing. But this seems to me to be a non-news item, something that's been done for a long time already.
 

WinXP

Golden Member
Mar 11, 2001
1,021
0
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I have no problem with them using nuclear power in space. They have been using it.

Plenty of company

If nuclear power returns to space, it will find a lot of company. In the most recent tally provided by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, there are roughly 75 nuclear devices in space, 38 from the United States and 37 from Russia. Of these, 46 are in Earth orbit, 12 were left on the Moon or Mars, and 17 power deep-space probes.

In 1964, for example, an American satellite failed and re-entered Earth's atmosphere. As planned, it jettisoned its nuclear payload, releasing radiation over the Indian Ocean at an altitude of 75 miles, according to the Bulletin.

In 1973, the Apollo 13 spacecraft carried an RTG to be used to power a seismic station on the Moon. The mission was aborted and the spacecraft returned to Earth. The RTG was attached to the lunar module, which broke up on re-entry. NASA officials say the RTG re-entered intact, with no release of plutonium, and now sits on the floor of the Pacific Ocean.

In 1978, a Soviet radar reconnaissance satellite malfunctioned and crashed in Canada's Northwest Territory, releasing thousands of highly radioactive fragments into a lake and the surrounding area.

No evidence has tied these mishaps to any cancer cases or deaths.

http://cndyorks.gn.apc.org/yspace/articles/nppoised.htm
 

Stunt

Diamond Member
Jul 17, 2002
9,717
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This is a huge conspiracy by the evil nuclear companies and the Bush administration to restrict green fuels like solar power!

Not to mention Uranium prices have gone up 400% in the last 2 years; obviously big uranium is screwing us over. :roll:
 

BrownTown

Diamond Member
Dec 1, 2005
5,314
0
0
well, the fact is that people have deffinitely died from nuclear batteries before. The russians used to use them alot for remote stations in Siberia, and some fools have come across them not knowing what they were and received lethal doeses of radiation. So its entirely plausible that if a piece comes raining down people could die from it (they could also die from being hit in the head by solar panels fallign from the sky i guess :p). Also, the fact that its nto all that dangerous doesnt nescecarrily mean its a good idea. Both NASA, and hte nuclear industry are getting some good PR now, and a release of radiation on a nationally televised launch could hurt both. I agree that nucelar batteries are a much better source of energy than solar panels for these missions, but on the other hand, there is a larger risk is something were to go wrong.
 

Horus

Platinum Member
Dec 27, 2003
2,838
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Originally posted by: BrownTown
well, the fact is that people have deffinitely died from nuclear batteries before. The russians used to use them alot for remote stations in Siberia, and some fools have come across them not knowing what they were and received lethal doeses of radiation. So its entirely plausible that if a piece comes raining down people could die from it (they could also die from being hit in the head by solar panels fallign from the sky i guess :p). Also, the fact that its nto all that dangerous doesnt nescecarrily mean its a good idea. Both NASA, and hte nuclear industry are getting some good PR now, and a release of radiation on a nationally televised launch could hurt both. I agree that nucelar batteries are a much better source of energy than solar panels for these missions, but on the other hand, there is a larger risk is something were to go wrong.

Well, the russians also have TERRIBLE safety standards as well.
 
Jun 27, 2005
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As someone already pointed out, if the space craft blows up the battery will likely fall into the ocean as one solid chunk. Barring the creation of Godzilla, I don't see a problem.

IF it did in fact vaporize, the mass of nuclear material used in the battery isn't going to be enough to do anything to anyone. So again, I don't see a problem.

The problem I do see is the hysterical environmental movement once again needlessly freeking out over anything related to nuclear science.
 

ayabe

Diamond Member
Aug 10, 2005
7,451
0
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This same debate went on in the years leading up to the Cassini launch. The risk is minimal, I have no problem with it.
 

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