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60 votes
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Can we power things (like cars or similar rovers) on earth in the same way Perseverance generates power?

RTG technology has been applied on Earth, many times, although not for transportation - they don't produce much power for their weight so any RTG powered vehicle would be very slow. Some pacemakers ...
GdD's user avatar
  • 20.3k
36 votes
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How are astronauts in the ISS protected from electric shock?

It isn't the actual level of charge (potential) that causes electric shock. but being connected to two things (like your iron and the ground) that are at different levels. Hence why birds can sit on a ...
Steve Linton's user avatar
  • 19.6k
36 votes

Is it common and good engineering for a pair of cables to be easily plugged into each other's connectors in modern spacecraft

Off the top of my head I can think of several failures caused by miscabling. On Apollo 6 the signal to shutdown a malfunctioning second stage engine was cabled to a different engine, resulting in two ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
29 votes

Can we power things (like cars or similar rovers) on earth in the same way Perseverance generates power?

RTGs are expensive to produce, can be politically inconvenient to use, and in the form of a plutonium-bearing device, represent a potential nuclear proliferation hazard (though all RTGs might be used ...
Starfish Prime's user avatar
26 votes

Is it common and good engineering for a pair of cables to be easily plugged into each other's connectors in modern spacecraft

Not in flight but this 1996 NASA lesson learned document lists multiple instances of mis connected cables during ground assembly and test including on Galileo. It in turn references JPL documents ...
GremlinWranger's user avatar
25 votes
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How are the electronic circuits in interplanetary missions protected from extremely low temperatures?

Space in the vicinity of the Sun is not that cold, perhaps even out to Jupiter. One side of the spacecraft will be receiving sunlight while the side shielded from sunlight radiates into empty space. ...
David Hammen's user avatar
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24 votes
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How does electrical safety system work on ISS?

This answer addresses only the US side of the ISS. Like everything else on the ISS, it's complicated. Fuses are not commonly used on the ISS. There are fuses within the battery subassemblies, to ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
23 votes

If electronics are magnetic, how do they work in space?

Almost every premise of your question is wrong, unfortunately. Earth is not the only celestial body with a magnetic field — Jupiter, Saturn, and essentially every star (including the Sun), to ...
Nathan Tuggy's user avatar
  • 4,567
22 votes

Why did Apollo spacecraft use both AC and DC equipment? Still used in present and future designs?

There was no single DC voltage useful for the whole electronic system. A lot of different voltages were needed, for very noise sensitive systems dedicated DC sources were used to avoid interference. ...
Uwe's user avatar
  • 49.2k
22 votes

How are astronauts in the ISS protected from electric shock?

"Earth" doesn't work the way you might think. In any case, on a vehicle of almost any kind, "earth" is replaced by "metal chassis". Your question is based on a very common misconception: that ...
Harper - Reinstate Monica's user avatar
20 votes

Why latest Landsat satellites have solar panel on only one side?

Solar panel technology seems to have caught up with power requirements on the satellite. Since price of components is really no object when building a system like this, super expensive panels with ...
Dragongeek's user avatar
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20 votes
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Electronic Circuits for Safe Initiation of Pyrotechnics?

This excerpt from the Space Shuttle Systems Handbook Volume 2, drawing 13.1, (pdf page 200) shows a typical shuttle pyro circuit. (This one happens to be for the nose gear assist thruster, but they ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
19 votes
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Soyuz MS spacecraft battery voltage?

"Soyuz: A Universal Spacecraft" says the electrical system produces 23-34 volts. I saw a reference to a nominal 28VDC supply to the spacecraft in the Soyuz launcher manual; 28VDC is a global standard ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
19 votes
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What makes Insight's RAD750 processor so radiation resistant? (compared to 1998 iMac's PowerPC 750)

(Sorry that I am not an insider, but I did spend a half-day working on this answer.) Various versions of the iMac G3 used the PowerPC 750, 750CX, and 750CXe. The RAD750 comes in two versions: "...
DrSheldon's user avatar
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17 votes
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Earthing system in space?

The frame of the spacecraft is used as a common ground. See this diagram from this handbook.
PearsonArtPhoto's user avatar
  • 121k
16 votes

Highest DC voltage ever intentionally produced in space?

Potential answer (pun intended): 8000 volts for the Apollo television cameras. Several voltage levels must be accounted for: as much as 8 kilovolts are required at the tube photocathode, and various ...
DrSheldon's user avatar
  • 48k
15 votes

Highest DC voltage ever intentionally produced in space?

Linear accelerators have been employed in space. While "voltage" is perhaps not the right term, precisely, these do generate very high energy beams, and frequently using means (like RF, etc)...
J...'s user avatar
  • 807
15 votes
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What is the Criteria of Technology Readiness Level 9?

You seek Appendix E of NASA Systems Engineering Processes and Requirements (NPR 7123.1C) which defines the technology readiness levels. You can find the official definitions here. Effective Date: ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
14 votes
Accepted

First LED left on another planet⁺ by humans?

July 20, 1976, Mars, Viking 1 lander. In the article "Viking gas chromatograph–mass spectrometer" by Rushneck et al, Review of Scientific Instruments 49:817-834 (1978), section G (pp. 828-9) ...
Camille Goudeseune's user avatar
14 votes
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How to Get Space Heritage for a Component

I don't know about other countries, but in the US and in Europe, you pay for it. You pay a lot for it. Oftentimes there's not a whole lot of difference between (for example) an aerospace quality ...
David Hammen's user avatar
  • 75.1k
13 votes

Is it common and good engineering for a pair of cables to be easily plugged into each other's connectors in modern spacecraft

Not flight related, but everyday: Flammable gas cylinders have left hand threads. Oxygen, and other oxidizing gasses have right hand threads. The two examples I can think of involve propane and ...
Sherwood Botsford's user avatar
13 votes

Can we power things (like cars or similar rovers) on earth in the same way Perseverance generates power?

The answers claiming danger/toxicity are chasing something that's irrelevant. The real issue is that they don't produce all that much power*. If you want a car that can only drive a few hundred ...
jamesqf's user avatar
  • 607
12 votes

Do electronics and mechanical components work in a vacuum or require a sealed controlled atmosphere?

Generally speaking, all "air-tight" containers leak to some small degree. On Earth this manifests itself as an inability to maintain a vacuum indefinitely; in space, it manifests itself as an ...
user's user avatar
  • 7,330
12 votes
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What mitigation procedures are in place in space systems to prevent whisker growth?

Often, electrical systems prone to whisker growth are coated with a 2-3 millimeter layer of polymer (called a conformal coat); this not only prevents growth of whiskers, but also prevents any loose ...
adrian's user avatar
  • 286
12 votes
Accepted

How are cubesat electronics protected against the effects of radiation in LEO?

Radiation shielding in a cubesat (and spacecraft in general) is a tricky thing because radiation shielding adds mostly negative factors to the satellite. In general, the heavier your shielding is and ...
Dragongeek's user avatar
  • 19.2k
11 votes
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Would it be possible to build a probe that could operate at about 480 °C (900F degrees) without insulation?

@DavidVomLehn is right. I've just read news today of a the recent paper Prolonged silicon carbide integrated circuit operation in Venus surface atmospheric conditions. See also Ars Technica's We ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
11 votes
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Why was 65 volts used for ground support equipment?

I found two independent articles claiming the increase from 28 to 65 volts was implemented in order to shorten the time needed to pressurize the Service Module's tanks: Apollo 13 Flight Journal: ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
11 votes

Is it common and good engineering for a pair of cables to be easily plugged into each other's connectors in modern spacecraft

This is literally where Murphy's Law, "Anything that can go wrong will go wrong", came from. If you design a parts so they can be fitted incorrectly, they will be fitted incorrectly. "...
Schwern's user avatar
  • 8,016
11 votes

Electronic Circuits for Safe Initiation of Pyrotechnics?

In some cases, a pyrotechnic initiator may be designed to require a higher voltage than would normally exist anywhere anything connected to it. Consider the circuit at https://tinyurl.com/2p7xs8td (...
supercat's user avatar
  • 371
10 votes
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What are the ISS's eight "power channels"? How do they work?

Eight solar array wings, eight power channels. My answer to this question shows one power channel: How does electrical safety system work on ISS? You can read about the gory details of each channel ...
Organic Marble's user avatar

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