After flying the first helicopter to Mars, NASA has successfully completed its first experiment to create oxygen from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of this red planet.
The experiment was performed using a special MOXIE device mounted on the Martian space craft Perseverance Rover.
The full name of “Moxie” is “Mars Oxygen in Situ Resource Utilization Experiment”. That is, a device that could produce oxygen using and using local resources available on Mars.
It should be noted that the atmosphere of Mars is much lighter than our terrestrial air which contains about 95% carbon dioxide.
Each molecule of carbon dioxide has two atoms of oxygen attached to one carbon atom, which can be separated to get oxygen.
Moxie is a short-lived experimental device aimed at demonstrating technology that effectively separates oxygen from carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere.
After success in this phase, large instruments working on the same principles will be built and sent to Mars.
As the process progresses, eventually large machines will be delivered to Mars capable of producing year-round oxygen for at least four humans.
For the first two hours, the Moxie, a homemade double-baked toaster, slowly warmed itself and raised its internal temperature to 1470 degrees Fahrenheit (800 degrees Celsius).
It then absorbed Martian air (carbon dioxide) and began to make oxygen, producing about 5.37 grams of oxygen in about an hour, which would be enough to breathe 10 minutes of space light.
Under the most suitable conditions, Moxie can produce up to 10 grams of oxygen per hour.
Jim Reuters, associate administrator at NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, described the experiment as an important step in converting oxygen from carbon dioxide to Mars, and hoped that the dream of building human settlements on Mars would come true. Is starting to appear.
According to Reuters, four humans will need 55,000 pounds of rocket fuel to reach Mars, which will include 15,000 pounds of oxygen. All of this will be available from the ground up and will disappear along the way.
However, for astronauts to live on Mars for a year, about one metric ton (1,000 kilograms) of oxygen would be needed, and delivering it safely from Earth to Mars would increase the cost of the entire project many times over.
However, if the same oxygen is produced from a machine or device on Mars, not only will the resources be saved, but the solution will also be sustainable.