17 Powering Europa exploration Jupiter’s moon Europa is covered by a 20-km- thick ice sheet. NASA is exploring a micro- reactor probe concept to provide a heat source to melt through the ice, along with 43 kilowatts of onboard electrical power, including communication backup to a surface lander module. INL’s Jim Sterbentz is a member of the 20-person NASA Glenn Design Team. His work focused on design of the reactor concept, prediction of radiation fields expected in the probe and ice, and design of shielding to protect electronic equipment and sensitive scientific instruments. Preventing toxic blooms Phosphate pollution in U.S. waterways from sewage treatment plants, animal feeding operations and fertilizer runoff is costing industry and taxpayers billions of dollars annually and causing a public health crisis in the form of a toxic microorganism that thrives in phosphate-rich waters. To remediate or prevent such toxic blooms, INL and Rocky Mountain Scientific Corp. have developed the Phosphate Sponge. Its beads are made of an INL-developed material that absorbs phosphates when contaminated water is passed through a column or bed containing the beads, reducing phosphate levels to a few parts per billion. Like a sponge, the beads can be “wrung out” and reused indefinitely, while the phosphates extruded from them can be recycled as fertilizer feedstock ingredients. The technology won an R&D 100 Award in 2018. Above, aquariums at Rocky Mountain Scientific Corp. illustrate the Phosphate Sponge’s effect on water quality. Right, Europa