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Title: The heatpipe-operated Mars Exploration Reactor (HOMER)


No abstract prepared.

Publication Date:
Research Org.:
Los Alamos National Lab., NM (US)
Sponsoring Org.:
US Department of Energy (US)
OSTI Identifier:
Report Number(s):
TRN: US0100708
DOE Contract Number:
Resource Type:
Resource Relation:
Conference: Conference title not supplied, Conference location not supplied, Conference dates not supplied; Other Information: PBD: 1 Oct 2000
Country of Publication:
United States

Citation Formats

Poston, D.I. The heatpipe-operated Mars Exploration Reactor (HOMER). United States: N. p., 2000. Web.
Poston, D.I. The heatpipe-operated Mars Exploration Reactor (HOMER). United States.
Poston, D.I. Sun . "The heatpipe-operated Mars Exploration Reactor (HOMER)". United States. doi:.
title = {The heatpipe-operated Mars Exploration Reactor (HOMER)},
author = {Poston, D.I.},
abstractNote = {No abstract prepared.},
doi = {},
journal = {},
number = ,
volume = ,
place = {United States},
year = {Sun Oct 01 00:00:00 EDT 2000},
month = {Sun Oct 01 00:00:00 EDT 2000}

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  • The next generation of robotic missions to Mars will most likely require robust power sources in the range of 3 to 20 kWe. Fission systems are well suited to provide safe, reliable, and economic power within this range. The goal of this study is to design a compact, low-mass fission system that meets Mars surface power requirements, while maintaining a high level of safety and reliability at a relatively low cost. The Heat pipe Power System (HPS) is one possible approach for producing near-term, low-cost, space fission power. The goal of the HPS project is to devise an attractive spacemore » fission system that can be developed quickly and affordably. The primary ways of doing this are by using existing technology and by designing the system for inexpensive testing. If the system can be designed to allow highly prototypic testing with electrical heating, then an exhaustive test program can be carried out quickly and inexpensively, and thorough testing of the actual flight unit can be performed - which is a major benefit to reliability. Over the past 4 years, three small HPS proof-of-concept technology demonstrations have been conducted, and each has been highly successful. The Heat pipe-Operated Mars Exploration Reactor (HOMER) is a derivative of the HPS designed especially for producing power on the surface of Mars. The HOMER-15 is a 15-kWt reactor that couples with a 3-kWe Stirling engine power system. The reactor contains stainless-steel (SS)-clad uranium nitride (UN) fuel pins that are structurally and thermally bonded to SS/sodium heat pipes. Fission energy is conducted from the fuel pins to the heat pipes, which then carry the heat to the Stirling engine. This paper describes conceptual design and nuclear performance the HOMER-15 reactor. (author)« less
  • No abstract prepared.
  • A heatpipe-cooled fast reactor concept has been under development at Los Alamos National Laboratory for the past several years, to be used as a power source for nuclear electric propulsion (NEP) or as a planetary surface power system. The reactor core consists of an array of modules that are held together by a core lateral restraint system. Each module comprises a single heatpipe surrounded by 3-6 clad fuel pins. As part of the design development and performance assessment activities for these reactors, specialized methods and models have been developed to perform thermal and stress analyses of the core modules. Themore » methods have been automated so that trade studies can be readily performed, looking at design options such as module size, heatpipe and clad thickness, use of sleeves to contain the fuel, material type, etc. This paper describes the methods and models that have been developed, and presents thermal and stress analysis results for a Mars surface power system and a NEP power source.« less
  • Planetary exploration mission requirements are becoming more demanding. Due to the increasing cost, the missions that provide mobile platforms that can acquire data at multiple locations are becoming more attractive. Wheeled vehicles such as the MER rovers have proven extremely capable but have very limited range and cannot traverse rugged terrain. Flying vehicles such as balloons and airplanes have been proposed but are problematic due to the very thin atmospheric pressure and the strong, dusty winds present on Mars. The Center for Space Nuclear Research has designed an instrumented platform that can acquire detailed data at hundreds of locations duringmore » its lifetime - a Mars Hopper. The Mars Hopper concept utilizes energy from radioisotopic decay in a manner different from any existing radioisotopic power sources—as a thermal capacitor. By accumulating the heat from radioisotopic decay for long periods, the power of the source can be dramatically increased for short periods. The platform will be able to "hop" from one location to the next every 5-7 days with a separation of 5-10 km per hop. Preliminary designs show a platform that weighs around 52 kgs unfueled which is the condition at deployment. Consequently, several platforms may be deployed on a single launch from Earth. With sufficient lifetime, the entire surface of Mars can be mapped in detail by a couple dozen platforms. In addition, Hoppers can collect samples from all over the planet, including gorges, mountains and crevasses, and deliver them to a central location for eventual pick-up by a Mars Sample Return mission. The status of the Mars Hopper development project at the CSNR is discussed.« less
  • This paper discusses the great exploration plan to reach the planet Mars in this decade. The costs and procedures are also discussed. (LSP)