Space Power Systems

Idaho National Laboratory’s Space Nuclear Power and Isotope Technologies Division assembles and tests Radioisotope Power Systems at INL’s Materials and Fuels Complex, then delivers the systems for use in remote, harsh environments such as space. Radioisotope power systems can heat and power autonomous machinery for extended operation periods. INL assembles such generators by adding the radioactive power source.

MMRTG Testing

Generators fueled and tested at INL are currently powering the Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover (launched in 2011), the Pluto New Horizons (launched in 2006) and most recently, the Perseverance Rover (launched in 2020) which successfully landed on Mars in 2021.

READ: Atomic Power in Space II: A History 2015

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Chapters 1-2

Chapters 3-5

Chapters 6-10

Chapters 11-14


READ: Atomic Power in Space: A History (1987)

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Chapters 1-3

Chapter 4

Chapters 5-6

Chapters 7-8



Virtual tour: INL’s Space & Security Power Systems Facility