The availability of radioactive resources on Mars is unclear. Due to the vast effort of the nuclear enrichment process the nuclear fuel must be brought from Earth, preventing the settlement from being independent from Earth.
The maintenance effort of a legacy nuclear power station requires a huge staff. However, due to Russian plans to build a fully self-contained device on Mars the required maintenance staff comprises only 6 engineers.
Radioisotope thermoelectric generators (abbr.: RTG) are simple devices. They produce a heat difference, transformed by a thermocouple to electrical energy. The maintenance effort is low. However, RTGs do not provide enough power for a base.
Heating greenhouses and other buildings may be done indirectly by the heat of the nuclear fission. The heat can be transported in pipes from the reactor to the buildings. Heat exchangers avoid nuclear pollution of the buildings.
- What sort of nuclear fuel is needed?
- How long can the described nuclear power stations work without replenishment of nuclear fuel?
- What is known about nuclear resources on Mars?