NASA Mission to Pluto – ARL Dispersion Contribution
For many years, ARL has been leading the Interagency Nuclear Safety Review Panel’s (INSRP) meteorology program, examining safety aspects of any launch carrying radioactive materials (essentally all “deep space” missions, such as Cassini). In the case if the PNH mission, NOAA/ARL has played its usual role by assessing the risk associated with the launch of the spacecraft and examining the documentation submitted by mission contractors. Such review is necessary since the spacecraft is powered/heated with a General Purpose Heat Source – Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (GPHS-RTG). The key questions relate to the fate of this radioactive material if there should be an accident during the launching or at some other stage during the mission.
ARL will subsequently be taking part in the safety management activities associated with the actual launch.