NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover is powered by plutonium. (Image courtesy of NASA.)

NASA’s Perseverance Mars rover, which launched July 30 to explore potential life on Mars, is being powered by a somewhat surprising source to those outside of the space industry: radioactive plutonium. NASA turned to Plutonium-238, which is not the kind of plutonium used for weapons, as a reliable alternative to solar power.
“NASA likes to explore, and we have to explore in some very distant l…

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