According to TechRadar Beijing time on September 16th, everyone is talking about the moon. This Christmas, will be the first flight around the moon Apollo 8 spacecraft, taking the 50th anniversary of the famous "Sunrise" photo, we will be very Welcome to Apollo 11 for the first manned moon landing, astronauts Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin on the 50th anniversary of the moonwalk.
Figure: Artistic rendering of a nuclear fission reactor built on the moon
Can humans return to the moon? Should they return to the moon? The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is very clear that if you want to use the moon as a springboard for the solar system to explore missions, humans may have to return to the moon, so It has been trying for years to develop nuclear reactors that can operate safely on the moon.
Now, NASA may have already achieved the goal of developing a small, mobile, super-sturdy Kilopower. Kilopower can support human exploration of deep space missions, become humans to explore other planets in the solar system and their satellites - such as Mars and Titan Six-outpost.
What is Kilopower?
Kilopower is a lightweight, mobile nuclear fission reactor jointly developed by NASA and the US National Nuclear Safety Administration under the US Department of Energy. It has an output of 10 kW and can operate continuously for at least 10 years.
Jim Reuter, acting deputy director of the NASA Space Technology Task Force, said, 'Safe, efficient and adequate energy will be the key to future unmanned, manned space exploration missions. I expect the Kilopower project to be A key part of the moon and Mars power facilities. '
The Kilopower project was successfully demonstrated between November 2017 and March 2018.
Because the moon night is 14 Earth days, it needs Kilopower to provide electricity.
If a nuclear reactor is carried in a manned mission to the moon, Mars or other planets, it is necessary to ensure its safety.
David Poston, chief reactor designer at NASA Los Alamos National Laboratory, said, 'We have tested various tests on Kilopower, including tests under normal and abnormal conditions.'
In the test, the researchers simulated abnormal conditions such as power drop, generator and heat pipe failure. According to the plan, Kilopower will be used for space missions for the first time in 2020.
Why build a nuclear reactor on the moon?
In fact, humans have long used radioactive elements in their exploration of the universe, such as isotope thermoelectric generators (using 钚-238 elements), Apollo, Travelers, New Horizons and Cassini spacecraft.
Figure: Researchers are assembling Kilopower
In addition, the moon's night is very long. If the reader has observed the moon, it will find that it always faces us. The moon is about 27 days around the earth, and the rotation period is the same as the revolution period. Therefore, the day on the moon ( One night and night) is about 27 days. As a result, the night on any part of the moon lasts for about two weeks.
Marc Gibson, chief Kiropower engineer at Glenn Research Center, said, 'Kilopower gives us the ability to perform tasks that require more energy and explore shadow areas. When our astronauts stay on the moon and other planets for a long time, they will Need a new type of energy like never before. '
Can't use solar energy on the moon?
Figure: Conceptual diagram of the lunar equatorial solar battery belt designed by Shimizu
Although the night of the moon lasts for about two weeks, some people have proposed a method of using solar energy efficiently on the moon. Japan's Shimizu Corporation proposed a plan to build a solar cell several kilometers wide on the equator with a total length of 11,000 kilometers. With half of the solar battery belt will always be under the sun, given that the moon does not have the atmosphere, there will be no cloudy days, the solar cell's power generation efficiency will theoretically be five times that of the earth.
Will NASA return to the moon?
Every new US president is elected, there will be repeated on this issue. According to the Trump administration's space policy, the United States will first not carry people to the moon, and then realize manned landing on the moon, and establish a space station on the lunar orbit to help space. Perform other space missions, such as exploring Mars or asteroids. NASA invites private companies to develop new technologies for performing missions to the moon.
What is the lunar orbit platform portal?
Figure: Lunar Orbital Platform Portal is equivalent to the Moon Edition International Space Station
The planned lunar orbit platform portal will be a space station that orbits the moon instead of the Earth. While some believe that the lunar platform portal is a waste of money, NASA believes it will be the ' springboard' for astronauts to land on the moon and Mars.
The lunar platform portal is scheduled to launch in 2022 and will add a living compartment in 2023. By then, NASA's space launch system rockets and Orion spacecraft can already perform missions.