Title: European Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs) and Radioisotope Heater Units (RHUs) for Space Science and Exploration
Authors: AMBROSI RICHARDWILLIAMS HUGOWATKINSON EMILY JANEBARCO ALESSANDRAMESALAM RAMYCRAWFORD TONYBICKNELL CHRISTOPHERSAMARA-RATNA PIYALVERNON DAVIDBANNISTER NIGELROSS DUNCANSYKES JONATHANPERKINSON MARIE-CLAIREBURGESS CHRISTOPHERSTROUD COLINGIBSON STEPHENGODFREY ALEXANDERSLATER ROBERT G.REECE MICHAEL J.CHEN KANSIMPSON KEVINTULEY RICHARDSARSFIELD MARKTINSLEY TIM P.STEPHENSON KEITHFREIS DANIELVIGIER JEAN-FRANCOISKONINGS RUDYFONGARLAND CHRISTOPHELIBESSART MARTINMERRIFIELD JAMESKRAMER DANIEL P.BYRNE JAMIEFOXCROFT BENJAMIN
Citation: SPACE SCIENCE REVIEWS vol. 215 no. 8 p. 55
Publisher: SPRINGER
Publication Year: 2019
JRC N°: JRC119444
ISSN: 0038-6308 (online)
URI: https://publications.jrc.ec.europa.eu/repository/handle/JRC119444
DOI: 10.1007/s11214-019-0623-9
Type: Articles in periodicals and books
Abstract: Radioisotope power systems utilising americium-241 as a source of heat have been under development in Europe as part of a European Space Agency funded programme since 2009. The aim is to develop all of the building blocks that would enable Europe to launch and operate deep space and planetary missions in environments where use of solar power or alternative power generation technologies is challenging. Although some technical and policy work activity predate the ESA programme, the maturity of the technology has now reached a level that it can be incorporated in mission studies and roadmaps targeting the period from the mid 2020s onwards. This paper describes the state of the art in European radioisotope thermoelectric generators and radioisotope heater units. This paper includes: the evolution of the technical programme in detail; descriptions of the design; evolution of RTG and RHU devices from laboratory prototypes to more advanced fully functional systems; and experimental data obtained to date. This paper also outlines the technical challenges and multidisciplinary skills required to develop what is a world leading, original, significant and transformative technology solution for planetary science and exploration missions from the mid 2020s onwards.
JRC Directorate:Nuclear Safety and Security

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