A ‘critical step’: The Perseverance Robot is producing oxygen for the first time on another planet

The design of the “Experience Using Mars Oxygen Resources In situ”, or MOXIE for short: a tool in the “belly” of persistence containing carbon dioxide2 From thin but carbon-rich Mars air to pure oxygen. An invisible achievement. It was just 5.4 grams of oxygen – which is fine to keep the astronaut running for 10 minutes – but it proves beyond a reasonable doubt that the technology works on Mars.

The experimental device is no bigger than a car battery and it did run on the 60th Mars day of the mission. On the ground, about nine months after launch and two months after the six-wheeled vehicle has landed. The $ 2.2 billion rover is patrolling Jezero Crater, a dry lake where the rover will spend the next two years researching traces of microbiological life and investigating the geology of the planet.

A man on Mars

Jim Reuters of NASA described it in a press release on Wednesday as not just a “critical step”: sending people to our neighboring planet is now within reach. It is unlikely that astronauts will be able to bring enough oxygen on future Mars missions as they take up so much space on board a spacecraft.

Therefore, they will probably have to produce oxygen immediately, not only for breathing but also as fuel for the rockets that will propel the trip back to Earth. It is estimated that the successors to MOXIE could produce around 15 tons of oxygen. This will save a lot of space, weight, fuel and money for your first trip to the Red Planet. It should be enough to get four astronauts on the surface of Mars.

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Megan Vasquez

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