OT: Voyager watts

From: Dwight K. Elvey <dwightk.elvey_at_amd.com>
Date: Mon May 12 14:56:00 2003

>From: "Kapteyn, Rob" <kapteynr_at_cboe.com>
>I think RTG stands for "Radioactive Thermal Generation" or something like that.
>It is a hunk of plutonium that, on its own, glows at a high temperature.
>Since the temperature of space is near absolute zero, there is a large
temperature difference.
>A relatively simple, dependable thermocouple generates electrical power from
this temperature difference,
>making a really long-lasting, dependable battery -- but not of the sort you
want in your kid's toys :-)

 At least I know for sure that the Cassini uses a linear Stirling
engine and not thermocouples. These are much more efficient at producing
electricity with a thermal source. The linear ones can use magnetic
bearings and don't have wear factors to worry about. They can
also be controlled to give a more constant power output by changing
the efficiency as the radioactive source runs down.
Received on Mon May 12 2003 - 14:56:00 BST

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