Nasa’s HOTTech Project – Molten Salt Lander Battery capable of operating at the surface temperature of Venus
As part of NASA’s HOTTech project and in collaboration with EaglePicher Technologies, the JPL Electrochemical Technologies Group has developed and demonstrated a long-lived molten salt battery capable of operating at the surface temperature of Venus (465 °C) for several days to support detailed in-situ studies in future Venus surface missions. This development required the selection of appropriate cathode material, optimization of the composition of a composite cathode as well as electrolyte separator, and redesign of the cell seals and header. These features have enabled the prototype cells to operate for longer than 20 days in a primary mode, in a mission profile anticipated in a future lander (LISSE being developed by NASA GRC) with a small base load, overlapped by high-current pulses every eight hours for communications. Also, the battery was found to be rechargeable; with charging at a C/20 rate (79 mA), the cell operated for a few cycles, with a cumulative service life of 150 days at the Venus surface temperatures. In contrast, the batteries on the previous Venus landers survived only two hours.
Point of Contact: Erik Brandon (firstname.lastname@example.org)