Inspenet, September 12, 2023.
A special device on NASA’s Perseverance rover has managed to generate the necessary amount of oxygen on Mars to keep an astronaut alive for a period of three hours. Through its MOXIE (Mars Oxygen In Situ Resource Utilization Experiment) instrument, the rover has managed to transform carbon dioxide into oxygen .
Oxygen production on Mars
In a process that has been carried out in intermittent episodes for two years, a total of 122 grams of oxygen has been produced, by extracting atoms of the aforementioned element present in the CO 2 that makes up 95% of the Martian atmosphere.
“We are proud to have supported a revolutionary technology like MOXIE, which could turn local resources into useful products for future exploration missions,” Trudy Kortes, director of technology demonstrations at the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), said in a statement. from NASA headquarters in Washington.
According to Pamela Melroy, deputy director of NASA, this confirms the feasibility of extracting oxygen from the atmosphere of Mars , with the possibility of supplying it to astronauts or using it as rocket fuel.
Although this advance represents an important milestone on the path towards future colonization of Mars, there are still numerous challenges before this option becomes viable. Firstly, the average temperature on Mars is -62° Celsius, a condition that would be extremely dangerous for any human being. Additionally, the low atmospheric pressure makes Mars an inhospitable environment.
Therefore, we are still far from having a solid understanding of how life on Mars would be possible and there are numerous pending exploration projects, such as the one carried out by the Perseverance rover. This robot is a fundamental part of NASA’s Mars 2020 mission, which has a cost of 2.7 billion dollars and works together with the rover Curiosity to search for signs of ancient life on the surface of Mars, collecting numerous rock samples with a view to their eventual return to Earth.