Nuclear power has originally been designed for use in terrestrial environments, but scientists at NASA think people could use nuclear fission reactors in extra-terrestrial environments such as the Moon, Mars or any other planet they may need power on.
Nuclear fission doesn’t depend on sunlight, wind or any other element that may link it to the place it is used. The idea is not new by any standards, but a recent project launched by NASA and the DOE will lead to a working demonstration unit in 2012.
“People would never recognize the fission power system as a nuclear power reactor,” says American Chemical Society’s (ACS) James E. Werner. “The reactor itself may be about 1 ½ feet wide by 2 ½ feet high, about the size of a carry-on suitcase. There are no cooling towers. A fission power system is a compact, reliable, safe system that may be critical to the establishment of outposts or habitats on other planets. Fission power technology can be applied on Earth’s Moon, on Mars, or wherever NASA sees the need for continuous power.”
“A fission power system on the Moon could generate 40 kilowatts or more of electric power, approximately the same amount of energy needed to power eight houses on Earth.” In addition, he said that a fission power system could operate in a variety of locations such as in craters, canyons or caves.
Well, if nuclear is not to be suitable for Earth in the distant future (at least in some people’s views), maybe our huge uranium reserves will serve better to some other applications than bombs or creating dangerous power on our planet.