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A team from Los Alamos National Laboratory has received the Secretary of Energy’s Achievement Award for their contributions on the thermoelectric generator that provides electrical power and heat to the Mars Science Laboratory’s Curiosity rover.
The award was presented by Secretary of Energy Steven Chu to Craig Van Pelt, Alejandro Enriquez, Diane Spengler, John Matonic and David Armstrong Oct. 4, in Washington D.C. The Secretary of Energy’s Achievement Award is typically given to recognize a group or team of employees who together accomplished significant achievements on behalf of DOE.
Powering a rover as sophisticated as Curiosity is made possible through the Plutonium-238 fueled Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator, which was successful in part due to the Los Alamos National Laboratory employees who worked on this project.
The MMRTG keeps the rover’s battery charged night and day, giving Curiosity the potential of being the longest-operating, farthest-traveling, most-productive Mars surface mission in history.