Never miss a story

Get subscribed to our newsletter


×
What will happen to exploration missions if NASA runs out of fuel? Wikimedia

Washington, October 12, 2017 : The shortage of plutonium threatens NASA’s future mission to explore deep space, the US government has warned.

The break in production of plutonium 238 (Pu-238) between 1988 and 2015 could result in a bottleneck situation, where there is not enough of this scarce resource to power spacecraft during long-duration missions, Newsweek.com reported this week citing a government report.


NASA has long used radioisotope power systems (RPS) to generate reliable electrical power and heat energy for long-duration space missions, the US Government Accountability Office (GAO) report said.

But given NASA’s current plans for solar system exploration, the supply of this critical resource could be exhausted within the next decade, putting in jeopardy its future missions that would require this fuel, it warned.

RPS can operate where solar panels or batteries would be ineffective or impossible to use, such as in deep space or in shadowed craters, by converting heat from the natural radioactive decay of plutonium-238 (Pu-238) into electricity.

Missions such as Mars Curiousity rover and the Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft use radioisotope thermoelectric generators as power source.

The production problems of Pu-238 and subsequent risks to NASA have been known for several years.

The Department of Energy (DOE) and its predecessor agencies have been providing Pu-238 and fabricating RPS for NASA and other federal agencies for more than five decades decades

ALSO READ NASA’S Mars Odyssey Spacecraft Captures First Images of the Martian Moon Phobos after 16 years

DOE currently maintains about 35 kgs of Pu-238 isotope designated for NASA missions, about half of which currently meets the power specifications for spaceflight.

However, given NASA’s current plans for solar system exploration, this supply could be exhausted within the next 10 years.

Specifically, NASA plans to use about 3.5 kg of Pu-238 isotope for one RPS to power the Mars 2020 mission, the Government Accountability Office report said.

NASA may also use an additional 10.5 kg of Pu-238 isotope for its New Frontiers #4
mission if three RPS are used.

If DOE’s existing Pu-238 supply is used for these two missions, NASA would be forced to eliminate or delay future missions requiring RPS until DOE produces or acquires more Pu-238, the report said. (IANS)


Popular

IANS

Hanisha Kapoor, COO, ArchiesBeauty.com shares makeup trends experimented by these Bollywood divas throughout 2021 for inspiration.

Festivals are just around the corner and while you brainstorm about OOTDs (outfit of the day), don't forget the right makeup. Hanisha Kapoor, COO, ArchiesBeauty.com shares makeup trends experimented by these Bollywood divas throughout 2021 for inspiration. While some stuck to the classics, others mixed it up... take a look:

The Classic Red Lip
We don't see a future where classic red lips go out of fashion. The right way to achieve this celebrity look is to focus on accentuating your lips and keeping the rest of the face minimal. Give your lips a good scrub to plump them, moisturize and follow it up with a red lip liner to define the shape of your lips. Now go on with the perfect shade of red and finish your look with a slick of eyeliner, minimal concealer, and foundation.

Keep Reading Show less
Wikimedia

Amaal represents the new generation of Indian music.

Music composer Amaal Mallik's recent composition for the song 'Tum Aaogey' from the film 'Bell Bottom' has garnered rave reviews. "Tum Aaogey is one of my most special songs and one of my best works that I have done for film music," said Amaal during a candid conversation with IANS.

Amaal represents the new generation of Indian music. In a short span of seven years, he has delivered hits like 'Sooraj Dooba Hain' (Roy), 'Soch Na Sake' (Airlift), 'Kar Gayi Chul' (Kapoor & Sons) among several others. He happens to be one of the youngest composers to compose music for Amitabh Bachchan for the film 'Badla' and also the youngest to have performed with the Melbourne Orchestra.

Internationally, Amaal recently collaborated with pop sensation Dua Lipa for the Indian version of 'Levitating'. "It was an amazing experience for me to collaborate with Dua Lipa. She loved my work. It was the first of its kind collaboration between Indian and international music artistes and fans around the world were delighted with the new rendition of the song. It was an honour for me to do an official Indian remix and giving an Indian touch to one of her biggest tracks, one of the standout songs on the 'Future Nostalgia' album."

Man with balck shirt and pant sitting Internationally, Amaal recently collaborated with pop sensation Dua Lipa for the Indian version of 'Levitating' | IANS

Keep Reading Show less
Wikimedia

After spending three days on-orbit, the world's first civilian mission of SpaceX's Inspiration4 returned to Earth on Sunday

After spending three days on-orbit, the world's first civilian mission of SpaceX's Inspiration4 returned to Earth on Sunday. The crew, onboard the Dragon spacecraft re-entered Earth's atmosphere for a soft water landing off the coast of Florida at 7.06 p.m. EDT (4.36 a.m. Sunday India time). "Happy. Healthy. Home. Welcome back to Earth," Inspiration4 shared in a tweet. "Splashdown! Welcome back to planet Earth," added SpaceX on the microblogging site.

The mission lifted off to orbit aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft on Wednesday (India time Thursday). It was commanded by tech entrepreneur Jared Isaacman and joined by Medical Officer Haley Arceneaux, a physician assistant at St Jude Children's Research Hospital and pediatric cancer survivor; Mission Specialist Chris Sembroski, an Air Force veteran and aerospace data engineer; and Mission Pilot Dr Sian Proctor, a geoscientist, entrepreneur, and trained pilot.

inspiration4 launch The mission lifted off to orbit aboard SpaceX's Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft on Wednesday (India time Thursday) | Wikimedia

Keep reading... Show less