“HOUSTON, WE’VE HAD A PROBLEM”
(and we’re bringing another one home to you)
An RTG is a nuclear device that acts as the power plant for operations on the Moon. RTG’s could pose a risk of radioactive contamination if the container holding the fuel leaks. There are seven known accidents involving satellites and space vehicles carrying RTG’s (5 Russian, 2 American). The RTG is filled with Plutonium-238 which has a radioactive half-life of only 88 years. This is the good news. But it is 275 times more toxic than other Plutonium isotopes, the bad news. The fuel can irradiate biological tissue if ingested (or inhaled) and must be kept cool and within its container.
The U.S. Government has conducted atmospheric and seawater sampling since the device entered the ocean and has determined that the container is intact and is not leaking; and that no release of Plutonium-238 should occur. But anytime the government says “no problem” or “there is nothing to worry about”, that starts us worrying. While it’s not time to panic, what do you think about this?