Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory

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Public lectures explore powering space missions on Mars

Patrick McClure and David Poston will discuss the small nuclear reactor developed at the Laboratory to power missions on Mars during three Frontiers in Science lectures.
March 26, 2018
illustration of the umbrella-like heat radiators of four Kilopower nuclear reactors

Artist's illustration of the umbrella-like heat radiators of four Kilopower nuclear reactors casting shadows on the Martian surface.

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When we imagine sending humans to live on Mars, the moon or other planets in the not-so-distant future, a key question is: what kind of power source is small yet potent enough to reliably power an extraterrestrial habitat, and also make fuel for the trip home?- Patrick McClure

Patrick McClure and David Poston will discuss their Kilopower nuclear reactor project during three Frontiers in Science lectures

LOS ALAMOS, N.M., March 26, 2018—Los Alamos nuclear scientists Patrick McClure and David Poston will discuss the small nuclear reactor developed at the Laboratory to power missions on Mars during three Frontiers in Science lectures beginning April 2 in Albuquerque.

"When we imagine sending humans to live on Mars, the moon or other planets in the not-so-distant future, a key question is: what kind of power source is small yet potent enough to reliably power an extraterrestrial habitat, and also make fuel for the trip home?" McClure said.

The project, known as Kilopower, is being developed in conjunction with NASA. In the talk, Los Alamos project lead McClure and chief reactor designer Poston will address the design and testing of the reactor, and its possible use for a range of applications in space exploration.

McClure and Poston talk about the challenges solved by the project in a recent video posted to the Laboratory's YouTube channel.

All Frontiers in Science presentations begin at 7 p.m. and are free of charge. The talks are:

  • Monday, April 2 at the New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science, 1801 Mountain Road NW, Albuquerque
  • Wednesday, April 4 at the Unitarian Church, 1738 N Sage Loop, Los Alamos
  • Tuesday, April 10 at Jemez Rooms, Santa Fe Community College, 6401 Richards Avenue, Santa Fe

Sponsored by the Fellows of Los Alamos National Laboratory, the Frontiers in Science lecture series is intended to increase local public awareness of the diversity of science and engineering research at the Laboratory.

For more information, call (505) 667-7251 or email David Moore.

About Los Alamos National Laboratory

Los Alamos National Laboratory, a multidisciplinary research institution engaged in strategic science on behalf of national security, is operated by Triad, a public service oriented, national security science organization equally owned by its three founding members: Battelle Memorial Institute (Battelle), the Texas A&M University System (TAMUS), and the Regents of the University of California (UC) for the Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration.

Los Alamos enhances national security by ensuring the safety and reliability of the U.S. nuclear stockpile, developing technologies to reduce threats from weapons of mass destruction, and solving problems related to energy, environment, infrastructure, health, and global security concerns.