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Why does the world keep its nuclear waste and throw it into the sun or into deeper space? – Jason, age 16, Mackay, Queensland.
Hi, Jason. Thank you for the question. I'm researching the space gap, and I think what's going to blaze into space and when it's over.
It's nice to send dangerous nuclear waste away from the ground. But it's not as simple as sounds.
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What Is Nuclear Wastes?
Nuclear wastes remain after using nuclear fuel in a reactor. Many countries in the world use nuclear reactors to provide electricity to homes and industries.
When the atom is atomized, the atom is separated from each other. The point is that some wastes – high-level wastes – are very radioactive. It releases particles that cause human, animal and plant disease. It also lasts thousands of years.
High-level waste is only 3% of the nuclear waste generated. Many are recycled, which reduces radioactivity. This creates the problem of what to do with the rest.
At the moment, high-level waste is stored on the Earth. Usually, particles are isolated from water, glass or concrete to prevent them from escaping. Containers are buried in the ground, but must be in a place where no earthquakes occur, and terrorists can not afford them.
If we could send the waste to the sun, we would not have been worried about where it would fall. But there are several reasons we do not do this.
It's not as easy as you think
First, it is very expensive. When Parker Solar Probe was sent to pick up the Sun's dimensions this year, it cost just under $ 1.5 billion for a small car to move so far from spacecraft.
It's simple to shoot an object against something bigger than the sun – it's 1.3 million times the size of the Earth. But it's really hard. Parker's Solar Probe (a NASA robotic spacecraft to explore the sun's outer corona) should spend seven times in the Venus planet to slow down enough to approach the sun.
The other reason is that rockets are sometimes blasted in the start pad or atmospheric. This puts waste into the environment and worsens the problem.
What's the deepest place?
You asked in deeper places and a good question. Why not send only nuclear waste to the solar system far from the sun?
Well, the waste storage spacecraft has a risk of traveling on a planet, moon, or asteroid. In some places may be our lifetime, like Mars and Europa (one of the months of Jupiter).
Although waste is safely sealed in a container, there is a risk that pollution of other planets may result. It can pose a threat to us or to other forms of life. Life forms can only be microbes, but we still have ethical responsibility to avoid them.
Of course, there are cosmic vessels equipped with nuclear energy. They use an RTG (a type of generator called the Radioisotope Thermoelectric Generator). In the film Martian, astronaut Mark Vudin (Matt Damon) earns RTG to warm up at freezing temperatures.
At the end of the day, the problem is not something safe or unpleasant for Earth's inhabitants to keep away from nuclear waste and not to explode into space.
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