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File:Radioisotope thermoelectric generator plutonium pellet.jpg

English: This is an image of a glowing red hot pellet of plutonium-238 dioxide to be used in a radioisotope thermoelectric generator for either the Cassini mission to Saturn or the Galileo mission to Jupiter. This image was provided by the Department of Energy via email and was taken at the Department's Los Alamos National Laboratory. Each pellet produces 62 watts of heat and when thermally isolated, can glow brilliant orange. Excerpt from email:
"The pellet is glowing red because of the heat generated by the radioactive decay (primarily alpha) of the fuel. [Photos of glowing pellets are typically taken after insulating the pellet under a graphite blanket for a period of time (minutes), removing the blanket, and taking the picture.] These pellets were used in the RTGs that powered NASA's Galilleo and Cassini spacecraft on missions to Jupiter and Saturn, respectively. The pictures now being sent back from Saturn by the Cassini orbiter are made possible through this unique fuel source. To view the pictures from Saturn you may visit the NASA web site at To read more about the General Purpose Heat source, please visit the Department of Energy website at [note] Also, I am attaching another image of a Pu-238 fuel pellet that might be of better resolution that the one shown in the link below. If you use either of the images, please attribute it to the Los Alamos National Laboratory."

^[note] Dead link, new web page at
Date 24 March 2005 (first version); 21 September 2009 (last version)
Source Transferred from en.wikipedia
Author Original uploader was Deglr6328 at en.wikipedia. Later version(s) were uploaded by Raeky, Johnny--Bravo, Aarchiba at en.wikipedia.


Public domain This image is a work of a United States Department of Energy (or predecessor organization) employee, taken or made as part of that person's official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

Please note that national laboratories operate under varying licences and some are not free. Check the site policies of any national lab before crediting it with this tag.

Specifically, this image comes from Los Alamos National Laboratory. LANL requires the following text be used when crediting images to it: ( link)

Unless otherwise indicated, this information has been authored by an employee or employees of the University of California, operator of the Los Alamos National Laboratory under Contract No. W-7405-ENG-36 with the U.S. Department of Energy. The U.S. Government has rights to use, reproduce, and distribute this information. The public may copy and use this information without charge, provided that this Notice and any statement of authorship are reproduced on all copies. Neither the Government nor the University makes any warranty, express or implied, or assumes any liability or responsibility for the use of this information.

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