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Radiation from plutonium 238 used in space applicationsThe principal mode of the nuclear decay of plutonium 238 is by alpha particle emission at a rate of 17 curies per gram. Gamma radiation also present in nuclear fuels arises primarily from the nuclear de-excitation of daughter nuclei as a result of the alpha decay of plutonium 238 and reactor-produced impurities. Plutonium 238 has a spontaneous fission half life of 4.8 x 10 to the 10th power years. Neutrons associated with this spontaneous fission are emitted at a rate of 28,000 neutrons per second per gram. Since the space fuel form of plutonium 238 is the oxide pressed into a cermet with molybdenum, a contribution to the neutron emission rate arises from (alpha, n) reactions with 0-17 and 0-18 which occur in natural oxygen.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Keenan, T. K. (Los Alamos Scientific Lab. NM, United States)
Vallee, R. E. (Mound Lab. Miamisburg, Ohio, United States)
Powers, J. A. (AEC)
Date Acquired
August 6, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1972
Publication Information
Publication: NASA, Washington Proc. of the Natl. Symp. on Nat. and Manmade. Radiation in Space
Subject Category
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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IDRelationTitle19720009951Analytic PrimaryProceedings of the National Symposium on Natural and Manmade Radiation in Space