Feeds

Budget decay kills NASA plutonium drive project

Hopes for speedy solar system shutttle recede

  • alert
  • submit to reddit

3 Big data security analytics techniques

Budget cuts have forced NASA to mothball its Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator (ASRG), a power plant designed to help the agency run projects to the outer planets.

The ASRG was a decade-long development project designed to get the most out of space craft using plutonium-238 as fuel in applications where solar power won't work.

Current plutonium-powered craft use relatively inefficient thermoelectric generators. The ASRG development work was based on stirling engines which NASA said produced electricity at four times the efficiency of the older engines. This, in turn, would preserve its reserves of plutonium-238, which is produced in very low amounts.

NASA had initiated the ASRG effort to preserve plutonium-238, but in this statement, planetary science division director James Green announced the termination of the program:

“With an adequate supply of Pu-238, and considering the current budget-constrained environment, NASA has decided to discontinue procurement of ASRG flight hardware. We have given direction to the Department of Energy, which manages the flight procurement, to end work on the flight units. The hardware procured under this activity will be transferred to the Glenn Research Center to continue development and testing of the Stirling technology.”

However, as Casey Drier of the Planetary Society explains, NASA's current output of Pu-238 is so low that it would take as much as 11 years to fuel a project like New Horizons, now approaching Pluto after a flight that started in 2006.

Drier's fear is that falling back to the less efficient thermocouple-based generator will constrain the number of outer-planet missions NASA is able to launch. A NASA animation describing the ASRG technology is below. ®

Watch Video

Top three mobile application threats

More from The Register

next story
So, just how do you say 'the mutt's nuts' in French?
Vital linguistic question interrupts LOHAN spaceplane mission
95 floors in 43 SECONDS: Hitachi's new ultra-high-speed lift
Guangzhou skyscraper denizens to hold on to hats
Most Americans doubt Big Bang, not too sure about evolution, climate change – survey
Science no match for religion, politics, business interests
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
LOHAN and the amazing technicolor spaceplane
Our Vulture 2 livery is wrapped, and it's les noix du mutt
Liftoff! SpaceX Falcon 9 lifts Dragon on third resupply mission to ISS
SpaceX snaps smartly into one-second launch window
STEALTHY NANOROBOTS dress up as viruses, prepare to sneak into YOUR BODY
Cloaking techniques nicked from viruses tackle roadblocks on way to medical frontier
Space station astronauts pop outside to replace crippled computer
Speedy space walk by snorkel-equipped spacemen followed by trash day
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
3 Big data security analytics techniques
Applying these Big Data security analytics techniques can help you make your business safer by detecting attacks early, before significant damage is done.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mainstay ROI - Does application security pay?
In this whitepaper learn how you and your enterprise might benefit from better software security.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.