As if we didn’t have enough trouble getting to the outer Solar System, now comes word that the US inventory of plutonium-238 is diminishing. That's what NASA administrator Mike Griffin told a House appropriations subcommittee this past week, pointing out that after the Mars Science Laboratory launches in 2009, the agency will find itself running out of the plutonium needed to fuel radioisotope power systems. Even New Horizons, on the way to Pluto/Charon, is using Russian plutonium, the periodic purchase of which has been forced by NASA's dwindling supplies.
Saturday, March 08, 2008
Power Shortage in the Outer Solar System?