Perseverance synthesized oxygen from the Martian atmosphere!

Perseverance continues successes: after a landing and a smooth deployment, after the first extraterrestrial flight of its drone Ingenuity here is that the Mars rover of NASA has just paved the way for the arrival of humans on the red planet.

The success is to the credit of its tool ” Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment ”Or MOXIE of its small name (Martian experiment of production of oxygen starting from the use of the resources in situ). This cube of 24x24x31 cm side and weighing 17 kilograms is able to synthesize oxygen from the Martian atmosphere. Like a plant, MOXIE “breathes” the ambient air of Mars, composed of 96% CO2, which it decomposes into oxygen (O2) and carbon monoxide (CO).

MOXIE ran for 30 minutes on its first test and produced 5 grams of oxygen, which is the normal consumption of an adult human for 10 minutes. To conquer Mars, it will be necessary to produce much more oxygen than that, not only for the men, but also for the rockets.

Because it is impossible to send by rocket the oxygen necessary for the return of the teams to earth: everything will have to be synthesized on site. According to NASA estimates, between 30 and 45 tonnes of O2 for rocket takeoff and humans travel from Mars to Earth. This is why the machines that we will have to send before the arrival of the first teams must be 100 times bigger than MOXIE and produce not 10g … but 1kg of O2 per hour.

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Despite the modest production of MOXIE, its success validates the theory of the production of O2 on the spot. And opens the way to the Martian conquest. Not bad for an instrument the size of a car battery!

Sources : Nasa via Engadget

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