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Spacecraft: Surface Operations: Rover

Keeping the rover warm through heaters

The current plan is to heat the rover by a combination of:

  • excess heat coming from the electronics (like heat coming off the top of a television set or an oven)

  • eight Radioisotope Heater Units (RHUs), which are constant 1-watt heaters that generate heat through the decay of a low-grade isotope)

  • electrical heaters
Electrical power is a precious commodity on Mars, and even more so during the Mars night where the rover relies solely on the batteries for power. RHUs help conserve nighttime battery power. While an electrical heater can be turned on or off, RHUs continuously provide about 1-watt of heat. Without the use of RHUs, the rover would be unable to meet its landed mission lifetime of 90 Mars days, due to the increased power demand on the batteries. In fact, the life expectancy of the rover would fall short of its requirement by nearly 70 Mars days.
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