Radiological Contingency Planning for the Mars Science Laboratory Launch
Radiological Contingency Planning for the Mars Science Laboratory Launch The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) provides technical support to the requesting federal agency such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Department of Defense, the National Space and Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), or a state agency to address the radiological consequences of an event. These activities include measures to alleviate damage, loss, hardship, or suffering caused by the incident; protect public health and safety; restore essential government services; and provide emergency assistance to those affected. Scheduled to launch in the fall of 2009, Mars Science Laboratory is part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, a long-term effort of robotic exploration of the red planet. Mars Science Laboratory is a rover that will assess whether Mars ever was, or is still today, an environment able to support microbial life. In other words, its mission is to determine the planet's "habitability." The Mars Science Laboratory rover will carry a radioisotope power system that generates electricity from the heat of plutonium's radioactive decay. This power source gives the mission an operating lifespan on Mars' surface of a full Martian year (687 Earth days) or more, while also providing significantly greater mobility and operational flexibility, enhanced science payload capability, and exploration of a much more »
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