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NASA is set to begin testing a radical 'nuclear engine' that could provide power for astronauts on the Martian surface.
Dubbed the 'Kilopower' it would use a uranium rector the size of a toilet roll to create heat.
Efficiency - Stirling - Engine - Electricity - System
A high efficiency Stirling engine would then convert this to electricity, in a system that works in a similar way to a car engine.
NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) has provided multi-year funding to the Kilopower project.
Technology - Kilowatts - Power - Years
The technology could produce from one to 10 kilowatts of electrical power, continuously for 10 years or more.
The average U.S. household runs on about five kilowatts of power.
Testing - November - Year - NASA - Department
Testing is due to start in November and go through early next year, with NASA partnering with the Department of Energy's (DOE) Nevada National Security Site to appraise fission power technologies.
'The Kilopower test program will give us confidence that this technology is ready for space flight development.
Models - Way - Verification - Hardware - Lee
'We'll be checking analytical models along the way for verification of how well the hardware is working,' said Lee Mason, STMD's principal technologist for Power and Energy Storage at NASA Headquarters.
The Y12 National Security Complex in Oak Ridge, Tennessee is providing the reactor core for the tests of the system.
Fission - Power - Unit - Mars - Explorers
Having a space-rated fission power unit for Mars explorers would be a game changer, Mason claims.
It would kill off worries about meeting power demands during the night or long, sunlight-reducing dust storms.
Solves - Issues - Supply - Power - Regardless
'It solves those issues and provides a constant supply of power regardless of where you are located on Mars.
'Fission power could expand the possible landing sites...
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