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These objects represent a great potential hazard to life on Earth and could cause global destruction. NASA is close to accomplishing this goal. Congress has more recently mandated that by NASA should detect and track 90 percent of NEOs that are meters in diameter or larger, a category of objects that is generally recognized to represent a very significant threat to life on Earth if they strike in or near urban areas.

Achieving this goal may require the building of one or more additional observatories, possibly including a space-based observatory.

Historical Importance

This interim report addresses some of the issues associated with the survey and detection of NEOs. The final report will contain findings and recommendations for survey and detection, characterization, and mitigation of near-Earth objects based on an integrated assessment of the problem.

Until the program's termination in August , NIAC provided an independent open forum, a high-level point of entry to NASA for an external community of innovators, and an external capability for analysis and definition of advanced aeronautics and space concepts to complement the advanced concept activities conducted within NASA. Throughout its 9-year existence, NIAC inspired an atmosphere for innovation that stretched the imagination and encouraged creativity.

NASA's deep space missions may get new jolt of fuel - Los Angeles Times

The design of the ASC is intended to avoid each of useful existing component tests will be in predicting the these pitfalls. Wear is not generally considered an issue for reliability of ASRG flight hardware, as a complete system, Stirling engines used in ASCs because they use gas bearings for a particular mission and for the full design lifetime of in which the moving piston is centered by pumped gas.


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As a 17 years. In particular, even if the ASRG design specification result, no moving parts are in contact with each other unless is frozen on schedule in April , and even if subsequent the gas bearings fail for some reason. Testing of ASCs in a simulated space environment in or exceed performance expectations. The most advanced vacuum and at temperature has shown that loss of helium model the ASC-E2 has demonstrated These high levels of efficiency will tion of any materials.

The high tests of magnets, analyses of electromagnetic interference levels of demonstrated efficiency have also allowed the EMI , and analysis and testing of organic materials used ASC and ASRG development efforts to focus on enhancing for electrical insulation and potting, structural bonding, reliability and manufacturability rather than improving effi- and the surface finish of moving parts.


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Ongoing, long-term ciency beyond that which has already been achieved. Current levels of EMI seem to be generally satisfac- mally implemented. This plan includes DOE requirements tory. All organics in the current The quality assurance effort encompasses all of the organiza- ASC design have been identified, evaluated, and approved. Cryocoolers are used in instruments operating in the infrared, and in a radiation environment. ASC converters have cumulatively coolers have been used on spacecraft manufactured in the United States, undergone more than , hours 23 years of testing at Europe, and Japan.

Six others have accu- ronmental conditions. In addition, the RPS The MMRTG will fly on the Mars Science Laboratory, but program is continuing to work on a configuration manage- this is the only mission that is firmly committed to using the ment plan and other related plans and processes.

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As this work is completed, the industry teams that A failure mode, effects, and criticality assessment of the developed and built the MMRTG are expected to disband, ASRG engineering unit identified 51 single-point failures and the industry facilities are expected to be reconfigured for SPFs. If ability of the two types of devices. For example, about 80 percent of until 1 the ASRG is demonstrated to be flight ready and the SPFs on the ASRG engineering unit are structural in 2 NASA commits to using ASRGs or another comparable nature, and the designers believe that the likelihood of these RPS for long-life, deep-space missions, then even with an failures has been reduced to very low levels through the use adequate supply of Pu, the United States could lose the of conservative structural designs.

In any case, the issue is ability to manufacture any RPSs, at least for a time. It is important to the national interest to main- programmatic requirements for a given mission.

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ASRG at full-power operation over the entire year design life. System electronics i.

Extended life tests will The next major milestones in the advancement of ASRGs provide additional data regarding reliability, but there is not are to freeze the design of the ASRG, to conduct system test- enough time or money to build enough ASRGs and then test ing that verifies that all credible life-limiting mechanisms them for long enough to determine rigorously what level of have been identified and assessed, and to demonstrate that reliability they will have over a year lifetime.

However, ASRGs are ready for flight. There has never been a numeric what constitutes flight readiness for RPSs. These facili- expectations of project managers for future missions. NASA has not yet lost any critical RPS facilities, the acceptance of ASRGs as a viable option for deep-space and the projected budget seems adequate to sustain neces- missions and reduce the impact that the limited supply of sary research and development facilities. Flight Readiness. Technology Plan. This plan operating an ASRG in space e. Outer Planets Flagship Mission. Mankins, J.

NASA’s deep space missions may get new jolt of fuel

April 6, National Environmental interfaces, and verification and validation. Cryogenic Cooling in Space: years of Lessons Learned.

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In particular, the RTGs that are used as batteries depend on Pu In space, batteries must be durable under extremely harsh conditions, and must be safe and maintenance-free, particularly where solar energy is not feasible. The heat that results from this process can be converted to electricity with no moving parts, which makes it ideal for spacecraft.

In fact, twenty-seven US spacecraft over the past 50 years have used radioisotope power systems powered by Pu Since the shutdown of the Savannah River Site reactor, Pu has been procured from foreign countries and processing equipment residues. These supplies are not sufficient to power future scientific endeavors.

Currently, the DOE maintains 35 kilograms of Pu, about half of which meets the power specifications for flight.