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NASA’s small nuclear reactor to power a habitat on Mars

NASA’s small nuclear reactor to power a habitat on Mars
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To provide safe and plentiful energy for future robotic and human missions for Mars and beyond, NASA is conducting experiments on Kilopower -- a small ...

Washington: To provide safe and plentiful energy for future robotic and human missions for Mars and beyond, NASA is conducting experiments on Kilopower -- a small nuclear reactor that can generate a reliable power supply.

This pioneering space fission power system could provide up to 10 kilowatts of electrical power -- enough to run two average households -- continuously for at least 10 years, the US space agency said in a statement on Friday. Four Kilopower units would provide enough power to establish an outpost.

"We want a power source that can handle extreme environments. Kilopower opens up the full surface of Mars, including the northern latitudes where water may reside," said Lee Mason, NASA's Principal Technologist for power and energy storage. On the Moon, Kilopower could be deployed to help search for resources in permanently shadowed craters, Mason added.

When astronauts someday venture to the Moon, Mars and other destinations, one of the first and most important resources they will need is power. A reliable and efficient power system will be essential for day-to-day necessities, such as lighting, water and oxygen, and for mission objectives, like running experiments and producing fuel for the long journey home. Fission power can provide abundant energy anywhere.

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