Mars Rover-Plutonium/Sun-and You (II)


Dear Friends & Visitors/Readers/Viewers,

(Please click onred linksbelow)

As you’ve seen what I’ve posted on Aug. 16 & 17, 2012, regarding the Mars Rovers (Spirit, Opportunity, and Curiosity) for both sides of the arguments: using nuclear energy (plutonium) or solar energy (Sun) to power Mars Rovers.  The main reason why nuclear (plutonium 238) energy source was selected over the solar energy source for the latest MSL Mission for Curiosity Rover lies in the fact that there are more power intensive experiments (<–click  on link), video clip below, conducted on Curiosity than Spirit or Opportunity.  But in light of the progress made this past decade in solar energy and the potential risk involved in using nuclear/plutonium source, it seems to me that perhaps we should consider several other alternatives:

  • 1. Dramatically increase our funding for R & D for solar energy and battery technology
  • 2. Using a hybrid system combining nuclear and solar energy so to minimize the amount of plutonium carried on board of any MSL Mission and to minimize the chance of wasting tax payers’ dollars when we’re running out of plutonium
  • 3. Delaying the more power intensive experiments until solar energy or any other less dangerous alternative energy will become available and sufficient/proficient in completing the project

Since I don’t have access to all information involved in determining how urgent these power intensive experiments need to be completed, I wouldn’t know how feasible it would be to delay this mission.  In that case, perhaps one should only request that all scientists and engineers involved in the project to be present during the launch of  the mission from Cape Canaveral  (Orlando, FL) (or wherever the launch site may be) rather than from JPL (Pasadena, CA).

Good news is that U.S. has stopped producing plutonium -238 in 1988; and since 1993, all of the plutonium-238 used in American spacecraft has been purchased from Russia. Please refer to discussion on plutonium-238 in wikipedia –>
~have a bright and sunny day~

written & posted by sunisthefuture-Susan Sun Nunamaker,

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