NASA revives plan to put nuclear reactors on Mars

Mar 2012
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As NASA makes plans to one day send humans to Mars, one of the key technical gaps the agency is working to fill is how to provide enough power on the Red Planet’s surface for fuel production, habitats, and other equipment. One option: small nuclear fission reactors, which work by splitting uranium atoms to generate heat, which is then converted into electric power.

NASA’s technology development branch has been funding a project called Kilopower for three years, with the aim of demonstrating the system at the Nevada National Security Site near Las Vegas. Testing is due to start in September and end in January 2018. The last time NASA tested a fission reactor was during the 1960s' Systems for Nuclear Auxiliary Power, or SNAP, program, which developed two types of nuclear power systems.

NASA’s interest in fission resurfaced after a 2010 study that looked at options for RTG systems. "At that point, we were trying to find a small fission reactor that could provide similar power output as the radioisotope power systems," Mason said. NASA engineers figure human expeditions to Mars will require a system capable of generating about 40 kilowatts of power, which is about what is needed for "about eight houses on Earth," according to the agency.

https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/nasa-revives-plan-put-nuclear-reactors-mars-ncna778536
 
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May 2012
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By the wall
They are trying to play catch up to Musk so they don't look like complete idiots.

Too little too late though, Musk will be there and set up long before they get this worked out.
 

Djinn

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Mars has no known uranium deposits, and the jury's still out on the availability of water.
 
Jan 2016
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Mars has no known uranium deposits, and the jury's still out on the availability of water.
I'm sorry, Djinn, but neither of these objections make ANY sense.

(1) We could take 100 pounds of uranium WITH us to Mars, and that would provide an AMAZING amount of power, and would last for a LONG time. Nuclear power is nothing if not EFFICIENT in how much power you can get for a very small mass of fissionable material.

(2) Mars has PLENTY of water. The jury is NOT out on this one. BOTH of the polar ice caps contain a LARGE amount of frozen water. [They both also contain a large amount of frozen CO2 (dry ice) which, if melted, would help to heat up Mars with a greenhouse effect.] Additionally, Mars has an IMPRESSIVE amount of water, or ice, not far below the surface, in MANY areas of Mars. You simply DRILL for it. [That's also where they need to go in the search for life on Mars; we have yet to drill down deep enough, but the next European rover scheduled to go to Mars will do that-----the Europeans just might be the first to discover bacterial life on Mars....]
 
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The Russians were also confidently talking about sending a nuclear reactor to Mars about a decade ago or so. I have no idea if they're still serious about it. But yes, this IS the way to go, to provide power for human habitation.
 
Sep 2011
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aMEEErica
This is one application where nuclear power is almost ideal.

Initially it is going to be far more practical than any other scheme.

Good, they need to get off their asses here! (No pun on the sex slave scheme<)

Thx :popcorn:
 
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Mar 2012
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