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Nuclear electric propulsion using Advanced Thermoelectric Generators (ATEG)s reaching over 20% efficiency.
The Swarm Probe Enabling ATEG Reactor (SPEAR) uses a small fission reactor coupled with ATEGs to power a nuclear electric propulsion (NEP) spacecraft. The SPEAR will deliver a swarm of CubeSats to Europa to look for signs of life in ejected plumes of water.
Irradiated TEGs can produce >20% conversion efficiency due to RIC. These units are called Advanced Thermoelectric Generators (ATEGs). The ATEGs are driven by the neutron field generated by the reactor. Neutrons are absorbed by boron or lithium isotopes in the TEG feet, which re-emit alpha particles to ionize surrounding material.
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