Researchers in the United Kingdom have extracted americium from a plutonium stockpile and used the heat generated from this radioactive element to generate enough electric current to light up a small lightbulb. The breakthrough means potential use of americium in radioisotope power systems for missions which would use the heat from americium pellets to power spacecraft heading into deep space or to challenging environments on planet surfaces where other power sources, such as solar panels, no longer function.

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