Space Power Systems
Fueling and Testing Nuclear Power Sources For Deep-Space Missions
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.
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.