Friday, November 18, 2011

Nuclear power generator hooked up to Mars rover

Spaceflight Now | Atlas Launch Report | Nuclear power generator hooked up to Mars rover:
Engineers installed the plutonium power source on NASA's Curiosity rover Thursday, adding the final piece to the complex robot before its Nov. 25 blastoff to Mars.


The Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator, or MMRTG, moved from a preparation building to the Atlas 5 rocket's Vertical Integration Facility early Thursday.

The 99-pound device was lifted inside the building and inserted through an access door on the rocket's bulbous white payload fairing. Technicians placed the power source on Curiosity through an opening on the spacecraft's backshell, which encloses the rover and its landing system during the journey from Earth to Mars.
It's a simple connection, according to David Gruel, manager of the mission's assembly, test and launch operations phase.

"We have four bolts holding it on and we hook up the electrical connections," Gruel said.

Image:NASA