Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator | MMRTG | Aerojet Rocketdyne

MMRTG Nuclear generator for spacecaft rendering infographic

The Multi-Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator (MMRTG) is a type of Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator developed for NASA space missions such as the Mars Science Laboratory (MSL), under the jurisdiction of the United States Department of Energy's Office of Space and Defense Power Systems within the Office of Nuclear Energy. The MMRTG was developed by an industry team of Aerojet Rocketdyne and Teledyne Energy Systems.

The MMRTG is powered by 8 Pu-238 dioxide GPHS modeules, provided by the Department of Energy. Initially, these 8 GPHS modules generated about 2 kW thermal power.

The MMRTG design incorporates PbTe/TAGS thermoelectric couples from Teledyne Energy Systems. The MMRTG is designed to produce 125 W electrical power at the start of mission, falling to about 100 W after 14 years. With a mass of 45 kg the MMRTG provides about 2.8 W/kg of electrical power at beginning of life.

The MMRTG design is capable of operating both in the vacuum of space and in planetary atmospheres, such as on the surface of Mars. Design goals for the MMRTG included ensuring a high degree of safety, optimizing power levels over a minimum lifetime of 14 years, and minimizing weight.

Multi Mission Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator MMRTG data provided by Wikipedia

Modeling Details

I used more reverse engineering techniques in order to build this model and associated renderings. The end product contained a total of 8323 pieces, and weighed in at nearly 100 MB in size. I built this model with the nPower NURBS plugin for 3ds Max, and converted it all to a poweredge mesh. What's interesting to me about this method, is that I can make super-detailed and complex models with extremely dense polygonal structures, without a massive file size. I tested building this model as a standard mesh, and it ended up being 320 MB in size.

This MMRTG has been completely modeled inside and out for infographics, and with the highest detail as possible (within reason). But maybe that's overkill given that I'll dirty the renderings up in After Effects and Photoshop, thus that level of detail will be lost.

MMRTG inside
MMRTG substructure

Did I mention that this model is for sale? Email me if you want to buy it. This would make a nice 3d print.

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