A few days after a helicopter flies over Mars, NASA returns with an important announcement. The Perseverance Rover has succeeded for the first time in extracting oxygen from the surface of the planet Mars. As a reminder, the Martian atmosphere contains around 96% carbon dioxide. This feat is thanks to Perseverance MOXIE, a tool that the rover carries and that managed to detach the oxygen atoms from the carbon dioxide molecules in order to produce oxygen.
Jim Reuter, assistant administrator for NASA’s directorate of space technology missions, said in a statement, “This is a critical first step in converting carbon dioxide to oxygen on Mars. MOXIE still has some work to do, but the results of this technology demonstration look promising as we near our goal of one day seeing humans on Mars. “
NASA sees this in the long term
In the long term, Jim Reuter believes that this technology could help create breathable air for future explorers, but could also be used in the construction of a rocket engine. In this first test, MOXIE managed to produce 5 grams of oxygen, which is what a person needs for oxygen for 10 minutes. To date, MOXIE can deliver a maximum of 10 grams of oxygen per hour, which is obviously not enough to survive.
However, should this technology prove successful, NASA could replicate this process on a larger scale to produce tons of oxygen. Currently, MOXIE’s goal is to produce nine times more oxygen in the first two years of persistence on Mars.
When the first astronaut to set foot on Mars receives his first inspiration, he can thank MOXIE, which years ago managed to produce 5 grams of oxygen with the Martian atmosphere.