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Waspie_Dwarf

U.S. lab produces first plutonium in 25 years

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U.S. laboratory produces first plutonium in 25 years

HOUSTON -- For the first time in 25 years, the United States is producing plutonium fuel to power spacecraft on missions beyond Earth, replenishing a dwindling stockpile to supply NASA's next Mars rover and other proposed probes.

"This is a major step forward," said Jim Green, head of NASA's planetary science division.

NASA uses plutonium when solar arrays are unable to power spacecraft visiting the outer solar system. Nuclear generators have powered 27 U.S. space missions over the last five decades, enabling exploration of the sun, the moon, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus and Neptune. NASA's Curiosity rover exploring Mars is powered by plutonium, and the New Horizons probe, another nuclear-powered mission, is cruising toward Pluto for an encounter in 2015.

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Their article title could have been written a little better, as the article refers to a specific isotope of plutonium(Pu-238), not the plutonium used in nuclear weapons(Pu-239), which has been continually produced. See here from the article:

"The milestone comes after Congress and the White House struggled to restore funding to artificially create plutonium-238, the special non-weapons grade isotope used to generate electricity for space missions."

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Their article title could have been written a little better

I think you are being ridiculously nit-picky here. A title is just a title, a brief introduction to an article. It's purpose is to draw a readers interest NOT to describe the article in it's entirety. If the title contains all the relevant information then it ceases to be a title and IS the article.

The headline is not inaccurate, the US lab in question, the Oak Ridge National Laboratory is producing plutonium for the first time in 25 years. If the title was misleading or inaccurate I could understand your complaint, but it is neither of those things.

Given that the article was posted in this, the space exploration section, of this site and was originally from a specialist spaceflight website why would anyone assume it was about weapons grade plutonium anyway?

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Posted (edited)

Waspie, don't get upset already.

The article title is MISLEADING, as if suggesting that NO plutonium has been produced for 25-years. Which is clearly wrong.

That was my point. Not the rest of the article which correctly describes the details.

Peace...

EDIT: In any event, I share the joy with you and other's that there is a renewed effort to continue R&D in this area for space exploration power systems.

Edited by pallidin

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Posted (edited)

Waspie, don't get upset already.

Who's upset?

The article title is MISLEADING, as if suggesting that NO plutonium has been produced for 25-years. Which is clearly wrong.

No, the title is not misleading, it is your interpretation of it that is at fault. You can't blame the writersw if you read into a title something that is not there. It clearly states: U.S. laboratory produces first plutonium in 25 years.

If it said: "U.S. produces first plutonium in 25 years" or "first plutonium produced in 25 years" then you would have a valid point. It doesn't and you don't.

That was my point. Not the rest of the article which correctly describes the details.

I fully understand your point, you are still wrong.

Edited by Waspie_Dwarf

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Posted (edited)

What it did not, but should have clearly titled is "U.S. laboratory produces first plutonium isotope(Pu-238) in 25 years."

That would have been much better.

Again, though, glad they're ramping it up again.

Edited by pallidin

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