Fiscal year 2012 (FY12) was a strong year for the Radioisotope Power Systems (RPS) Program. I was impressed by the perseverance and tenacity of the team in solving technical, programmatic, and procedural challenges to advance the development of the Advanced Stirling Radioisotope Generator (ASRG), the availability of RPS, and the state of technology for future systems. At the same time, we were all inspired by the image of the first new RPS in more than two decades powering the Mars Science Laboratory—the Nation’s latest triumph on Mars. The United States remains the leader in deep space exploration because of our ability to develop and fly RPS.
Few missions can match the achievements of NASA's groundbreaking Voyager 1 and 2 spacecraft during their 40 years of exploration. Here's a short list of their major accomplishments to date.
Humanity's farthest and longest-lived spacecraft, Voyager 1 and 2, achieve 40 years of operation and exploration this August and September. Despite their vast distance, they continue to communicate with NASA daily, still probing the final frontier.
A cutting-edge development in spacecraft power systems is a class of materials with an unfamiliar name: skutterudites (skut-ta-RU-dites). Researchers are studying the use of these advanced materials in a proposed next-generation power system called an eMMRTG, which stands for Enhanced Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator.
Ulysses, a joint NASA and European Space Agency mission, officially ceased operations today, after receiving commands from ground controllers to do so.