NASA Is Working on a Battery That Won’t Melt on Venus

From ExtremeTech: Venus is considered Earth’s twin due to its size and composition, but the conditions on this world could not be more different. The choking, scorching environment on Venus has killed every probe that attempted a landing in mere minutes, but NASA is planning a new mission to Venus that will last a bit longer. The Long-Lived In situ Solar System Explorer (LLISSE) is a small but mighty Venus lander that will study the planet for several months. NASA’s Glenn Research Center is working with a company to develop a battery that can power that lander in one of the most extreme environments in the solar system.

Building an advanced robotic probe that can survive on Venus is no simple feat. Temperatures on the planet can reach 869 degrees Fahrenheit (465 degrees Celsius), which is hot enough to melt the lead in circuit boards and cook most batteries. Venus’s atmosphere is also highly corrosive, which causes common spacecraft materials like copper to fail quickly. The only landers to reach the planet’s surface were the USSR’s Venera missions, none of which lasted more than a few minutes. NASA plans to have LLISSE (above) operating on Venus for an incredible 60 Earth days.

NASA is working with Advanced Thermal Batteries, Inc (ATB) to develop the power systems for this mission — and it has to be a battery. You can’t use solar panels due to the planet’s thick atmosphere. A radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG) like the one used in the Perseverance rover would produce heat, and Venus is already hot enough to threaten the 22-pound lander.

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