Space exploration missions require safe, reliable, long-lived power systems to provide electricity and heat to spacecraft and their science instruments. A flight-proven capable source of power is the Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (RTG)—essentially a nuclear battery that reliably converts heat into electricity.
NASA and the Department of Energy (DOE) have developed a new generation of such power systems that could be used for a variety of space missions. The newest RTG, called a Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG), has been designed to operate on Mars and in the vacuum of space. The MMRTG has a flexible modular design capable of meeting the needs of a wide variety of missions, as it generates electrical power in smaller increments than previous generations of RTGs, about 110 watts at launch. The design goals for the MMRTG included optimizing power levels over a minimum lifetime of 14 years and ensuring a high degree of safety