NASA, in collaboration with the Department of Energy of the United States (DOE), has developed a prototype of a small nuclear reactor that could be used in future space exploration missions to obtain electric energy in a safe, abundant and efficient way.
This reactor is Kilopower, a pioneer fission system that could provide up to 10 Kilowatts of electric energy, enough to provide uninterrupted supply to two households with average consumption for ten years. Thus, four units of Kilopower would produce enough energy to power a remote site, according to those in charge of the project.
In Mars it could be used all over the surface of the planet, including the northern latitudes where it is believed there might be water
Kilopower is two meters wide and has a compact structure. According to its creators, it opens new roads to space exploration. Thus, in Mars it could be used all over the surface of the planet, including the northern latitudes where it is believed there might be water. In the moon it might be useful to search for resources in craters that are permanently in the shadows. Additionally, this system would be used to create the necessary fuel to return to Earth, thus avoiding carrying an extra charge on board, which is not viable due to its weight and economic cost.
In environments with such adverse conditions, it seems difficult to generate electricity with other sources of generation. Kilopower, assures NASA, offers several advantages, including its ability to withstand extreme environments and the fact that it is a light, reliable and efficient device.
To this we must add that both the equipment performance and maintenance are simple. With this small nuclear reactor, NASA resolves one of the handicaps of space missions: generating energy whilst on the field.