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Spacecraft Power   


Mars rover Curiosity requires power to operate.

Without power, the rover cannot move, use its science instruments, or communicate with Earth.

Curiosity carries a radioisotope power system. This power source produces electricity from the heat of plutonium's radioactive decay.

This power source provides several advantages:

  • It gives the mission an operating lifespan of a full Martian year (687 Earth days) or more.
  • It gives the rover greater mobility over a large range of latitudes and altitudes.
  • It allows scientists to maximize the capabilities of the rover’s science instruments.
  • It provides engineers with a lot of flexibility in operating the rover (e.g., day and night).

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