WMFE is Central Florida's primary provider of NPR programming on 90.7 FM and Classical Music on 90.7 HD2. Part of the community since 1965, WMFE focuses on providing quality national and local news and programming. We inspire and empower all Central Floridians to discover, grow and engage within and beyond their world.
Support for 90.7 WMFE is provided by

NASA Rover Launch Gets Additional Safety Precautions


Play Audio

The payload fairing, or nose cone, containing the Mars 2020 Perseverance rover sits atop the motorized payload transporter that will carry it to Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida. The image was taken on July 7, 2020. Photo: NASA/KSC

Stay up to date on coronavirus coverage: Listen to WMFE on your radio, the WMFE mobile app or your smart speaker — say “Alexa, play NPR” or “WMFE” and you’ll be connected.

NASA is taking additional safety measures for the launch of its Mars Perseverance rover next week from Cape Canaveral. That’s because it’s packed with radioactive material.

The NASA rover relies on marshmallow-sized chunks of plutonium for power. As the material decays it gives off heat which the rover can turn into electrical power.

NASA conducted an extensive safety assessment before launch, consulting federal, state and local authorities about the risks and safety measures needed to protect area residents.

There’s only about a tenth of one percent chance that an accident could occur which results in radioactive particles going airborne. Even still, the possible exposure would be low to those nearby.

Despite the low risk, Kennedy Space Center is deploying 30 sensors around the area to measure air quality and alert NASA if there’s any radioactive particles nearby.

If anything does happen, NASA and Brevard county will offer guidance to residents near the launch site like sheltering in place until an all clear is issued.


Get The 90.7 WMFE Newsletter

Your trusted news source for the latest Central Florida COVID-19 news, updates on special programs and more. Support our extended coverage.

GET THE LATEST

WMFE Journalistic Ethics Code | Public Media Code of Integrity

Brendan Byrne

About Brendan Byrne

Space Reporter and 'Are We There Yet?' Host

Brendan covers space news for WMFE, everything from rocket launches to the latest scientific discoveries in our universe. He hosts WMFE's weekly radio show and podcast "Are We There Yet?" which explores human space exploration. He also helps produce WMFE's public affairs show "Intersection," working with host ... Read Full Bio »

TOP