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First Mars outpost power systems

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1 Author(s)
F. Littman ; Rocketdyne Div., Rockwell Int. Corp., Canoga Park, CA, USA

Research into potential power systems for the First Mars Outpost (FMO) was performed. The author examined a representative mission architecture which was developed by NASA to determine power system requirements. Power system options including nuclear, isotope, photovoltaic (PV), chemical heat engine, and regenerative fuel cell (RFC) concepts were identified for potential Mars surface applications. A top-level characterization study was conducted to determine power system mass and area for each application. It is seen that PV systems are generally not suited for Mars surface applications due to the large surface area required and higher mass than a closed Brayton cycle SP100 reactor system. A reactor is currently being considered by NASA Lewis Research Center to provide power for base architectures including an ISRU (in situ resource utilization). An oxygen/methane powered heat engine would provide 40 kWe of emergency power for the habitat. A dynamic isotope power system (DIPS) is the current choice for a long-duration pressurized rover due to the excessive size of a PV/RFC system and higher mass of a heat engine system. DIPS has advantages for other low power systems due to its neatly immediate availability and flexibility (night or day power; no recharging required).<>

Published in:

IEEE Aerospace and Electronic Systems Magazine  (Volume:8 ,  Issue: 12 )