Recent news highlights a groundbreaking collaboration between ISRO and BARC in the development of Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generators (RTGs), a pivotal leap in the realm of space propulsion. These nuclear-powered engines hold the promise of revolutionizing deep space missions, overcoming limitations posed by chemical engines and solar power.
Unraveling the Potential of RTGs
Beyond the Ordinary: Nuclear-Powered Engines
- RTGs represent a radical departure from conventional propulsion systems, harnessing the power of nuclear energy to drive spacecraft.
Overcoming Limitations for Deep Space Missions
- The rationale behind RTGs stems from the constraints posed by chemical engines, which are not ideally suited for deep space exploration.
- The distance of deep space makes solar power generation unviable due to diminishing sunlight intensity.
The Advantages of RTGs
Independence from Solar Proximity and Planetary Alignment
- One of the standout benefits of RTGs is their independence from solar proximity and planetary alignment.
- They eliminate the constraints of ‘launch windows’ associated with reliance on solar energy.
Unveiling the Mechanics of RTGs
Harnessing Radioactive Materials
- RTGs function through the utilization of radioactive materials, such as Plutonium-238 and Strontium-90.
Components of an RTG System
- An RTG system comprises a radioisotope heater unit (RHU) and the RTG itself.
- The heat generated by the radioactive decay is transferred to a thermocouple. copyright©iasexpress.net
Generating Voltage for Propulsion
- The thermocouple transforms the heat into voltage, which is then used to charge batteries.
- The charged batteries subsequently serve as the motive force for the satellite.
Powering Spacecraft with RTGs: A Reality
Remarkable Achievements with RTGs
- RTGs have already powered an array of US spacecrafts, including Voyager, Cassini, and Curiosity.