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Accessing Icy Worlds using Lattice Confinement Fusion (LCF) Fast Fission NASA proposed the Ocean Worlds Exploration Program to search for extraterrestrial life. The challenge is that up to 40 kilometer-thick ice must first be broken through to reach sub-surface oceans. These icy ocean worlds include Ceres, Europa, Enceladus, and Pluto. Each world may have a liquid water ocean beneath their ice crust. These oceans are likely heated by the parent planet’s tidal forces, or in the case of Pluto or Ceres, by residual radioactive decay. A robotic probe exploring the oceans beneath must either melt or bore through the ice crust first. Consequently, the proposed probe needs to contend with hydrostatic ice pressure, ice phase and density changes, then water pressure. Such a mission requires a small, but robust and long lived, electrical energy and heat source.

Instead, we propose a novel, compact, scalable nuclear energy source using neither highly enriched uranium (HEU) nor 238Pu similar to the hybrid fusion-fission generator described by Forsley and Mosier-Boss. This nuclear energy source uses Lattice Confinement Fusion (LCF) neutrons to fast-fission thorium or depleted uranium where neither 232Th nor 238U isotopes are fissile
Document ID
Document Type
Theresa L Benyo
(Glenn Research Center Cleveland, Ohio, United States)
Lawrence P Forsley
(Global Energy Corporation Annandale, Virginia, United States)
Date Acquired
May 3, 2022
Subject Category
Energy Production And Conversion
Physics Of Elementary Particles And Fields
Meeting Information
Meeting: Nuclear and Emerging Technologies for Space
Location: Cleveland, OH
Country: US
Start Date: May 9, 2022
End Date: May 12, 2022
Sponsors: American Nuclear Society
Funding Number(s)
WBS: 847801.
Distribution Limits
Portions of document may include copyright protected material.
Technical Review
NASA Peer Committee
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