The radioisotope thermoelectric generators powering the shuttles convert the heat from radioactive decay of the plutonium-238
core of the spacecraft into electricity.
In 1972, about 19,000 gallons (71,920 liters) of highly radioactive sodium bearing waste that involved the tritium, strontium-90, cesium-137 and plutonium-238
spilled during a failed underground transfer at the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center's tank farm.
RTGs convert heat generated by decaying plutonium-238
(Pu-238) fuel into electricity.
Oak Ridge did indeed make a breakthrough at the end of 2015, when they announced a new process to manufacture Plutonium-238
, a vital energy source for long space missions.
The production of 50 grams of plutonium-238
-roughly the mass of a golf ball -- marks the first demonstration in the United States since the Savannah River Plant in South Carolina ceased production in the late 1980s.
With the production of 50 grams of plutonium-238
, researchers at the Department of Energys Oak Ridge National Laboratory have restored a U.
Rabi'I 12, 1437, December 23, 2015, SPA -- For the first time in 30 years, federal scientists have produced plutonium-238
, , according to UPI.
In order to survive the harsh nighttime conditions on the Moon, when the temperature can fall from daytime highs of 123 degrees celsius to as low as minus 153 degrees, Luna-Globe is fitted with a radioisotope thermoelectric generator, which provides power by converting the heat generated by the decay of the plutonium-238
isotope into electricity.
(Pu-238) Programs: Pu-238 is the heat source for
The ESA program indicates americium-241, which is found in decaying plutonium, produced from reprocessing nuclear fuel, could replace plutonium-238
in batteries used in space probes, such as NASA's "Curiosity" Mars lander.
But Russia has stopped, too; the world's supply of plutonium-238
is getting low; and NASA has requested funding to explore the possibility of restarting plutonium-238
development once again.
According to Japan's Science Ministry, the highest reading was 11 becquerels of plutonium-238
per square meter, detected in the town of Namie, one of the ten locations in Fukushima Prefecture.