NASA Scientists Say Stirling Engine May Control Deep-Space Probes
A nuclear-reactor engine design's small sample has been recently tested by a group of examiners from NASA, following which it is being affirmed that one day, it would be possible to power outer-space exploration probes.
The testing was done at Glenn Research Center and Los Alamos National Laboratory of NASA with the help of a small nuclear source. Also, a single Stirling engine was used, which produced some 24 watts of energy.
It has been told that the Stirling engine is the one that was first created in the 19th century. It makes use of hot pressurized gas in order to push a piston. Also, heat is generated by it using a 50-pound nuclear uranium battery. The same is then taken to eight Stirling engines with the aim to release almost 500 watts of power.
The researchers are of the opinion that nuclear engines are essential as the entire solar system can be explored with their help. However, the Stirling engine is promising; it still needs to be improved to be able to power a spacecraft since most of the deep-space probes need power of some 600 to 700 watts.
"The nuclear characteristics and thermal power level of the experiment are remarkably similar to our space reactor flight concept", said David Poston, Los Alamos engineer.