Want to start a space colony? Even if you don’t, space agencies across the
globe do. Whether it’s a moon base now, à la the Trump administration’s
plans for NASA, or a Mars landing later, such a colony will need a lot of
power. And given the possibility of light-obscuring dust storms on the Red
Planet and the moon seeing an uneven amount of sunlight, solar panels may
not cut it. But don’t worry — Los Alamos National Lab has a plan.
It hinges on nuclear power, which, at its most basic, consists of
harnessing energy from radioactive elements. Often, this energy comes from
a process called fission, when a neutron rams through an atom’s nucleus,
splitting it. A nuclear reactor houses this chaos and uses the resulting
heat to generate power.
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