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Without Plutonium, Deep-Space Probe Missions May Sputter Out 268

Posted by timothy
from the not-much-to-go-on dept.
cold fjord writes with this excerpt from Wired: "Most of what humanity knows about the outer planets came back to Earth on plutonium power. ... The characteristics of this metal's radioactive decay make it a super-fuel. ... there is no other viable option. Solar power is too weak, chemical batteries don't last, nuclear fission systems are too heavy. So, we depend on plutonium-238, a fuel largely acquired as by-product of making nuclear weapons. But there's a problem: We've almost run out. 'We've got enough to last to the end of this decade. That's it,' said Steve Johnson, a nuclear chemist at Idaho National Laboratory. And it's not just the U.S. reserves that are in jeopardy. The entire planet's stores are nearly depleted. ... what's left has already been spoken for and then some. ... Political ignorance and shortsighted squabbling, along with false promises from Russia, and penny-wise management of NASA's ever-thinning budget still stand in the way of a robust plutonium-238 production system." The plutonium shortage has been deepening for a long time, leading to some creative solutions. The Wired article alludes to the NASA project underway to create more, but leans toward gloom.
Data Storage

OpenSUSE May Be First Major Distro To Adopt Btrfs By Default 104

Posted by timothy
from the slippery dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The openSUSE Linux distribution looks like it may be the first major Linux distribution to ship the Btrfs file-system by default. The openSUSE 13.1 release is due out in November and is still using EXT4 by default, but after that the developers are looking at having openSUSE using Btrfs by default on new installations. The Btrfs features to be enabled would be the ones the developers feel are data-safe."

"I have just one word for you, my boy...plastics." - from "The Graduate"