Saturday, 19 March 2011

Radioisotope heater units (RHU)

Radioisotope heater units normally provide about 1 watt of heat each, derived from the decay of a few grams of plutonium-238. This heat is given off continuously for several decades.

Their function is to provide highly localised heating of sensitive equipment (such as electronics in outer space). The Cassini-Huygens orbiter to Saturn contains 82 of these units (in addition to its 3 main RTG's for power generation). The Huygens probe to Titan contains 35 devices.

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