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Comment: Re:Exploding Rockets vs. Nuclear Power (Score 3, Informative) 483

by amorsen (#48424359) Attached to: What Would Have Happened If Philae Were Nuclear Powered?

Rosetta/Philae returned to Earth three times for gravity boosts. Each time it was going at speeds which would guarantee its destruction if it hit the deeper parts of the atmosphere. Had this happened and Philae had carried an RTG, it would have been the end of ESA due to the public outcry, and NASA would likely be in public relations trouble too.

There are places for RTGs, but Rosetta was not it. Philae may have died prematurely, but ESA is alive to try again.

Comment: Re:Couldn't they have used an RTG? (Score 1) 132

by amorsen (#48377787) Attached to: Comet Probe Philae Unanchored But Stable — And Sending Back Images

Rosetta/Philae came back to Earth several times for gravity boosts. It would not take much to make those flybys into direct hits, probably turning the RTG into radioactive dust.

Agencies who are dependent on public funding are generally wary about spreading radioactive dust.

Comment: Re:Big woop (Score 1) 170

by amorsen (#48367577) Attached to: What Happens When Nobody Proofreads an Academic Paper

It is interesting that fears of nuclear war have disappeared almost entirely. The arsenals are still in place, almost as powerful as they were at peak. More countries have significant amounts of nuclear weapons and there are doubts about the maintenance procedures in at least some of the countries.

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