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Title: An Approach to Autonomous Control for Space Nuclear Power Systems

Under Project Prometheus, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) investigated deep space missions that would utilize space nuclear power systems (SNPSs) to provide energy for propulsion and spacecraft power. The initial study involved the Jupiter Icy Moons Orbiter (JIMO), which was proposed to conduct in-depth studies of three Jovian moons. Current radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) and solar power systems cannot meet expected mission power demands, which include propulsion, scientific instrument packages, and communications. Historically, RTGs have provided long-lived, highly reliable, low-power-level systems. Solar power systems can provide much greater levels of power, but power density levels decrease dramatically at {approx} 1.5 astronomical units (AU) and beyond. Alternatively, an SNPS can supply high-sustained power for space applications that is both reliable and mass efficient. Terrestrial nuclear reactors employ varying degrees of human control and decision-making for operations and benefit from periodic human interaction for maintenance. In contrast, the control system of an SNPS must be able to provide continuous operatio for the mission duration with limited immediate human interaction and no opportunity for hardware maintenance or sensor calibration. In effect, the SNPS control system must be able to independently operate the power plant while maintaining power production even when subjectmore » to off-normal events and component failure. This capability is critical because it will not be possible to rely upon continuous, immediate human interaction for control due to communications delays and periods of planetary occlusion. In addition, uncertainties, rare events, and component degradation combine with the aforementioned inaccessibility and unattended operation to pose unique challenges that an SNPS control system must accommodate. Autonomous control is needed to address these challenges and optimize the reactor control design.« less
Authors:
 [1] ;  [2]
  1. ORNL
  2. University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UTK)
Publication Date:
OSTI Identifier:
1042813
DOE Contract Number:
DE-AC05-00OR22725
Resource Type:
Book
Publisher:
InTech, Rijeka, Croatia
Research Org:
Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL)
Sponsoring Org:
ORNL work for others
Country of Publication:
United States
Language:
English
Subject:
24 POWER TRANSMISSION AND DISTRIBUTION; 30 DIRECT ENERGY CONVERSION; CALIBRATION; COMMUNICATIONS; CONTROL SYSTEMS; DECISION MAKING; DESIGN; MAINTENANCE; NASA; NUCLEAR POWER; POWER DEMAND; POWER DENSITY; POWER GENERATION; POWER PLANTS; POWER SYSTEMS; PROPULSION; RADIOISOTOPES; REACTORS; SENSORS; THERMOELECTRIC GENERATORS NESDPS Office of Nuclear Energy Space and Defense Power Systems