Questions tagged [rtg]

RTG is a Radio-isotope Thermo-electric Generator. It uses the heat generated by the decay of a radioactive material to generate power. Often the heat as well, to hold off the cold temperatures in space or other planets.

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3answers
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Are there any safe-to-launch alternatives to RTG's for outer solar system exploration?

In the past two decades, NASA has launched at least three missions that use RTG's: Cassini Mars Science Laboratory New Horizons Those launches include plutonium, which is a reason for some to oppose ...
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If Curiosity had lights, could it drive or work in the evening?

If the Mars rover Curiosity had been equipped with lights, would it be able to drive or do other work in the evening? This could be some combination of LED headlights, wheel-lights, and/or a spotlight ...
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Could radiated heat propel space-craft in outer space?

The comment chain on What is the feasibility of launching a probe to Sedna? indicates RTG thermocouples decay. With the passage of time the thermocouple may even have the ability to transduce an ...
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Why are RTGs different colors?

This is an image of the radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) for Cassini: This one was for one left on the Moon: And this one is for the Multi-Mission RTG, used by Curiosity on Mars: One is ...
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Why was radio contact with Pioneer lost earlier than with Voyager?

Why was radio contact lost with the Pioneer probes much earlier than with the Voyager probes? The Voyagers were launched only 4 years after the Pioneers, yet the Voyagers are projected to last into ...
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How does the launch risk posed by plutonium compare to the launch risk posed by propellants?

For outer solar system exploration, virtually the only feasible power subsystem are Radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs). These include plutonium, which may carry considerable risks (see ...
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What were the uses of the RTGs in the Apollo spacecrafts?

I was listening to the Plutonium episode of "the Elements" on the BBC, and between 07:00 and 08:30 they talked about uses of plutonium such as spacecraft power and heat. While the returning astronauts ...
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Why wasn't an RTG used on the Juno spacecraft?

When I first heard about the Juno spacecraft, I was surprised that it would be using solar panels to generate power throughout the mission. Why wasn't a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) ...
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How does the launch risk for a plutonium RTG and a uranium fission reactor compare?

I was looking at this answer that talks about how a good alternative to Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators would be fission reactors. It makes a number of good points, but in the comment thread ...
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How far from the Sun can solar power be used as a reliable energy source?

Space probes headed for the far reaches of our Solar System rely on radioisotope thermoelectric generators for power (Cassini–Huygens, Voyager 1, Voyager 2). Presumably this is because solar power ...
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Why are planetary probe RTGs tilted at a jaunty angle?

This image from here: Does the Dragonfly project (quadcopters on Titan) envision attached RTG's or would they be static and revisited for charging? and this image show that the RTGs on these two ...
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Which countries have built RTGs and used them in Earth orbit and/or beyond?

I know the US has; a few have even left the solar system, there's some on the Moon, one on Mars, and one inside Saturn, though now "extensively modified". Rosetta had to hibernate for 2.5 years for ...
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Does the Dragonfly project (quadcopters on Titan) envision attached RTG's or would they be static and revisited for charging?

In this answer I link to the Phys.org article Researcher sets eyes on Saturn's largest moon which describes the Dragonfly project, a way to explore extended areas of Titan's surface difficult to probe ...
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Tritium as energy source for probes?

There's this ingenious little hack video: "How to make tritium nuclear battery at home". The idea is very simple: "tritium keychain lights" - tubes with tritium and luminophor - placed between solar ...
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How an americium-241 RTG would differ from one using plutonium-238?

@TomSpliker's great answer mentions that ESA might be looking at producing Radioisotope (powered) Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs) based on the radioisotope americium-241. 241Am is a "kinder and ...
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What is the current status of Stirling engine-based radioisotope generator technology?

@Heopps' cool answer to the question Any proposed missions to explore the black liquid on Titan? Technical challenges? has an interesting line: ASRG generator was planned as compact energy source ...
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Why did Voyager have to shunt unused electrical power and radiate as heat?

Reading about Voyager in The oldest computer (not) on Earth I saw the image below, where is shown a science instrument calibration panel and shunt radiator. According to the November 1980 NASA News ...