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NASA looking to go nuclear on the moon

Donald Melanson, @donmelanson
September 11, 2008
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As we've seen, NASA has some pretty big plans for the moon (which may or may not come to fruition), and it's now finally offering up a solution for how it might keep everything powered. Turns out, it's looking at going nuclear -- with a fission surface power system, to be specific. That system, seen above in an artist's concept, would consist of nuclear reactor buried below the lunar surface (which provides some handy radiation shielding), with the engines that convert the heat energy into electricity placed in the tower above the reactor -- those long radiators would "radiate into space" any leftover heat energy that wasn't converted to electricity. All told, the system promises to generate a steady 40 kilowatts of electric power, or enough for about eight houses on Earth, but with NASA's various power-saving measures, they say that'd be more than enough to sustain a serious lunar outpost.

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