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Realistic Specific Power Expectations for Advanced Radioisotope Power SystemsRadioisotope Power Systems (RPS) are being considered for a wide range of future NASA space science and exploration missions. Generally, RPS offer the advantages of high reliability, long life, and predictable power production regardless of operating environment. Previous RPS, in the form of Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTG), have been used successfully on many NASA missions including Apollo, Viking, Voyager, and Galileo. NASA is currently evaluating design options for the next generation of RPS. Of particular interest is the use of advanced, higher efficiency power conversion to replace the previous thermoelectric devices. Higher efficiency reduces the quantity of radioisotope fuel and potentially improves the RPS specific power (watts per kilogram). Power conversion options include Segmented Thermoelectric (STE), Stirling, Brayton, and Thermophotovoltaic (TPV). This paper offers an analysis of the advanced 100 watt-class RPS options and provides credible projections for specific power. Based on the analysis presented, RPS specific power values greater than 10 W/kg appear unlikely.
Document ID
Document Type
Conference Paper
Mason, Lee S.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH, United States)
Date Acquired
August 24, 2013
Publication Date
June 26, 2006
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Meeting Information
4th International Energy Conversion Engineering Conference (IECEC-2006)(San Diego, CA)
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 463169.01.03
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
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