NASA’s Moxie instrument successfully makes oxygen on Mars | Mars

A tool the size of a lunchbox succeeded in generating breathable oxygen MarsYou make a small tree.

Since February last year, an experiment using the site’s oxygen resource, or Moxie, has succeeded in making oxygen from the red planet’s carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere.

The researchers suggest that an upgraded version of Moxie could be sent to Mars, to produce oxygen continuously at a rate of several hundred trees, before humans go to the planet.

MOXY landed on Mars as part of NASA’s Persevere rover mission.

Researchers reported in a study that by the end of 2021, Moxie was able to produce oxygen in seven test rounds, in a variety of weather conditions, including during the day and night, and across different Martian seasons.

In each round, it reached its goal of producing 6 grams of oxygen per hour – similar to the rate of a humble tree on Earth.

It is hoped that the system at full capacity can generate enough oxygen to sustain humans life once they reach Mars, and fuel rockets to bring humans back to Earth.

“This is the first demonstration of actually using resources on the surface of another planetary body, and chemically converting them into something that would be useful for a human mission,” said Moxie Deputy Principal Investigator Jeffrey Hoffman, professor of practice in the Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). “.

The current version of the tool is small in design to fit the Perseverance rover, and is designed to run for short periods. The large scale oxygen plant will include larger units that will operate continuously in an optimal manner.

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So far, Moxie has shown that it can produce oxygen at nearly any time of the Martian day and year.

“The only thing we haven’t shown is running at dawn or dusk, when the temperature changes dramatically,” said Michael Hecht, principal investigator for the Moxie mission at MIT’s Haystack Observatory.

“We have an ace up our sleeve that will allow us to do that, and once we test that in the lab, we can reach this last feat to show that we can really run at any time.”

If a system is able to operate successfully despite being turned on and off frequently, this indicates that a large-scale system, designed to run continuously, could do so for thousands of hours.

“To support a human mission to Mars, we have to bring in a lot of things from Earth, like computers, spacesuits, and habitats,” Hoffman said.

“But dumb old oxygen? If you can make it happen, keep it up – you are way ahead of the game.”

The results were published in the journal Science Advances.

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