Curiosity instead of having solar panels like previous rovers is nuclear powered. What I’d like to know is how is the electricity generated?
I’ve always been under the impression that nuclear power stations make electricity by heating water to create steam to drive the generators. But surely they would not take a miniature water driven steam turbine to Mars where the prime directive is to look for traces of water.
I’ve done some Googling but can’t find the answer so appeal to the knowledgeable masses here.
So how do they generate electricity from the nuclear source?
Another point comes to mind. Without solar panels when the power source is finished, in a couple of years, the rover will be dead, unlike the previous couple of guys that kept going long past their operational date and one I believe is still working even now.
Is there no back-up plan to get more years out of such an expensive mission?