Today, Probabilistic Risk Assessment (PRA) plays a vital role in assuring mission success for robotic and crewed missions alike. Current-day PRA techniques integrate multimodal, often black-box analyses to build comprehensive risk profiles. This paper describes a review and verification study of the “Nuclear Risk Assessment for the Mars 2020 Mission Environmental Impact Statement” (N-PRA)[1]. Sandia National Labs conducted the N-PRA for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). More specifically, we have verified the source term calculations associated with the release of radionuclides from a Multi-Mission Radiothermoelectic Generator (MMRTG) power source for a limited set of accident scenarios in the case of an accidental re-entry into Earth Orbit with an Earth impacting trajectory.

We achieve this by using analytical methods[2] historically implemented for the Cassini Mission PRA[3] for a failed planetary swingby gravity-assist. Our results are within 28% to 56% of the referenced study. Limitations in our methodology are attributed to a lack of modern simulation-based tools and deterministic methods for modeling complex physical phenomena. The results are interpreted and compared with the values presented by the initial authors, along with comments for improving our current methodology.

This content is only available via PDF.
You do not currently have access to this content.