Energy for Remote Areas

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Science  22 Mar 1963:
Vol. 139, Issue 3560, pp. 1175-1180
DOI: 10.1126/science.139.3560.1175


Radioisotope-fueled generators are classed by (i) application (space or terrestrial), (ii) fuel (alpha-emitter or fission product, short or long half-life), and (iii) converter type (thermoelectric or thermionic). The environment determines the design of the heat sink mechanism. The type of fuel is chosen according to the application and the availability and cost of the fuel. The space systems are suitable for low-powered (less than 1 kw), long-lived, earth-orbit missions, making storage batteries unnecessary. They are independent of radiation belts and solar transients and are suitable for lunar missions, where power is needed during the long lunar night; for probes into the dense atmosphere of Venus; and in general, for missions away from the sun.