I read from this paper under section G. that the JPL Mars helicopter scout will use standard 18650 cells from Sony. I’m sure that a company like NASA has the capability of acquiring much more advanced and energy dense cells, especially since they only need a one-off. For example, see Sion, Oxis, and Solid energy systems.

Why are they are choosing to use regular cells?

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    $\begingroup$ because they're adequate? $\endgroup$
    – user20636
    Feb 11, 2020 at 22:46
  • $\begingroup$ @JCRM I would just imagine they would want as long of a flight time as possible. A 90 second flight time is pretty short. But maybe you’re right $\endgroup$
    – Ryan
    Feb 11, 2020 at 23:12
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    $\begingroup$ It's also important to note that "standard 18650 cell" is more of a form-factor than a specification. The materials and chemistry that go into a 18650 cell are being improved all the time. en.wikipedia.org/wiki/… An 18650 cell from an old laptop is not the same as an 18650 in a Tesla automobile, which is not the same as an 18650 cell out at Mars, unless of course it's in a red Roadster. $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Feb 11, 2020 at 23:17
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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh you are right. I didn’t mention the exact kind it is. It’s one with a high discharge rating which is of course necessary for such an application. $\endgroup$
    – Ryan
    Feb 11, 2020 at 23:27
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    $\begingroup$ I imagine it could have to do with reliability. If they really are using COTS, then there are literally decades and tens of thousands of tests which have been done and the product and how it preforms is very accurately known. If they custom-order a battery, they would need to do a boatload of testing before they're sure it won't randomly fail and that it adheres to their parameters. $\endgroup$
    – Dragongeek
    Feb 12, 2020 at 0:28


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