In a first-of-its-kind experiment, NASA’s Perseverance rover has produced sufficient oxygen on Mars to maintain an astronaut alive for 3 hours.
The rover, which first touched down on Mars in February 2021, produced the component utilizing its Mars Oxygen In-Situ Useful resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) system — which generated the oxygen by changing carbon dioxide in periodic bouts over two years.
Since arriving on the Pink Planet, the microwave-size system has generated 4.3 ounces (122 grams) of oxygen, in keeping with NASA. That is the equal to what a small canine breathes in 10 hours and offers scientists hope that human life may, in the future, be sustained on the inhospitable planet.
“We’re proud to have supported a breakthrough know-how like MOXIE that might flip native assets into helpful merchandise for future exploration missions,” Trudy Kortes, director of know-how demonstrations, House Know-how Mission Directorate (STMD) at NASA Headquarters in Washington, stated in a press release. “By proving this know-how in real-world circumstances, we have come one step nearer to a future wherein astronauts ‘dwell off the land’ on the Pink Planet.”
Carbon dioxide is considerable on Mars, making up 95% of its skinny ambiance, in keeping with NASA. By zapping small quantities of carbon dioxide over 16 experiments, the MOXIE system stripped oxygen atoms from CO2 and analyzed them for purity earlier than sequestering them safely inside a capsule. The leftovers have been then emitted within the type of carbon monoxide.
The scientists say that oxygen extraction gadgets will not simply be helpful for future colonists to breathe however for making rocket gas too.
“MOXIE’s spectacular efficiency exhibits that it’s possible to extract oxygen from Mars’ ambiance — oxygen that might assist provide breathable air or rocket propellant to future astronauts,” Pamela Melroy, NASA’s deputy administrator, stated within the assertion. “Growing applied sciences that allow us use assets on the Moon and Mars is crucial to construct a long-term lunar presence, create a strong lunar economic system, and permit us to help an preliminary human exploration marketing campaign to Mars.”
Regardless of this small however vital step, many profound well being challenges nonetheless stand in the best way of a viable Mars colony. For starters, Mars is so chilly that its common temperature of round minus 80 levels Fahrenheit (minus 62 levels Celsius) would freeze a human to loss of life and not using a house go well with, and its low atmospheric stress would concurrently boil their blood. That is with out considering the bombardment of cancer-causing radiation from the shortage of a protecting ozone layer and the excessive losses to bone-density introduced on by the journey there.
Till these issues are overcome, humanity’s closest view of the Pink Planet remains to be from rovers corresponding to Perseverance. As a key a part of NASA’s $2.7 billion Mars 2020 mission, the robotic, alongside the Curiosity rover, is looking for indicators of historical life on Mars‘ floor by gathering dozens of rock samples for eventual return to Earth. The rover is accompanied by the Ingenuity helicopter, which has to this point made 57 flights over the Martian floor.