For decades, space agencies around the world have dreamed of the idea of putting humans on the surface of Mars. With wide temperature ranges on a daily basis that are far outside of what humans are capable of withstanding, not enough oxygen to breathe, and no flora across the entirety of the planet, not to mention being anywhere from five to 10 months away from Earth, carrying out a manned mission on Mars has simply been a pipe dream for the longest time.
Unlike manned trips to the Moon carried out by NASA a few decades back, astronauts who travel to Mars would be forced to set up camp on the red, rocky planet due its distance from Earth, which is yet another major obstacle in the way of manned space travel to the planet.
Even though modern technology isn’t capable of reliably sending men to Mars, government agencies and businesses alike – take SpaceX, for example – are treating the potential of visiting Mars with a serious attitude.
For a short while, both NASA and the United States Department of Energy have agreed that nuclear power would be the most appropriate way to fuel a camp of astronauts living on Mars’ surface. As a matter of fact, a prototype reactor utilizing nuclear technology that’s designed for travel to and use on Mars has fared well in initial testing.
A report published yesterday, Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019, from Space.com indicates that the U.S. Department of Energy thinks it could have a final version – meaning it’d be ready to fly to Mars and put into use once astronauts landed there – of the proposed nuclear reactor by 2022.
The in-house project at NASA that’s concerned with the development and construction of nuclear power systems that could reliably be used on Mars is known as the Kilopower project.
According to official information from NASA, the aforementioned reactors that could be ready as soon as 2022 are going to be constructed with a 15-year working life in mind. The reactors, working as a system, will be able to put out a kilowatt’s worth of power in the form of electricity. Several reactors – not just a single reactor, unfortunately – would have to be shipped to Mars and constructed there in order to pump out enough energy in a form that could be used by astronauts who take up living there, though the Department of Energy and NASA are certainly optimistic about taking up the task.