Researchers try out NASA's new concept for a lunar truck, the Crew Mobility Chassis Prototype, at Moses Lake, Washington on June 9, 2008. Each set of wheels can pivot individually in any direction, giving the vehicle the ability to drive sideways, forward, backward and any direction in between.This feature is important if the truck becomes mired in lunar dust, needs to zigzag down a steep crater wall or parallel park at its docking station. NASA currently is building the spacecraft and systems to return to the moon by 2020. (UPI Photo/Sean Smith/NASA) | License Photo
NASA scientists said a fission surface power system on the moon would work by splitting uranium atoms in a reactor to generate heat that is then converted into electric power.
"Our goal is to build a technology demonstration unit with all the major components of a fission surface power system and conduct non-nuclear, integrated system testing in a ground-based space simulation facility," said Lee Mason, principal investigator for the project at NASA's Glenn Research Center in Cleveland. "Our long-term goal is to demonstrate technical readiness early in the next decade, when NASA is expected to decide on the type of power system to be used on the lunar surface."
After a one-year design and analysis phase, NASA will select a single contractor to build and test a prototype power conversion unit.