To produce oxygen, and more specifically to extract it from the Martian atmosphere, the device used MOXIE, developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
Astronauts for 10 minutes
Very high temperatures are required to break down carbon dioxide (CO2). In the first test, conducted on Tuesday, the device was able to produce 5.37 grams of molecular oxygen per hour, which is enough for an astronaut to breathe during normal activity for about ten minutes. In full mode, up to ten grams of oxygen can be produced per hour.
“In order for the astronaut to stay for one year, we will need about one ton of oxygen,” Peter Brow, a local expert on the Red Planet, commented on Twitter. The Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic.
“It was the first major attempt to produce oxygen from carbon dioxide on Mars,” said Jim Reuter of NASA. He added, “MOXIE has more work to do, but the results of this technology demonstration are very promising on the way to our goal of seeing people on Mars someday.”
The conversion process takes place at temperatures of around 800 ° C. That is why MOXIE is made of refractory material and has a thin gold coating that prevents potentially harmful heat from radiating into the persistence body.
Oxygen and waste carbon monoxide back into the atmosphere
According to Brož, it is important that the oxygen produced and waste carbon monoxide formed during the process are not stored by MOXIE, but released back into the atmosphere.
“If waste carbon monoxide is released into the Martian atmosphere, sooner or later he will feel sad and start looking for an alternative. And the wonders of the world will find them. The Czech scientist explained that there is very little oxygen in the Martian atmosphere, which combines with it and forms carbon dioxide again.” .
How does MOXIE work? It absorbs carbon dioxide, which is abundant in the Martian atmosphere. As the name suggests, it is made up of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms. Strains are made from Mara and isolate one oxygen atom, and when it contains two oxygen atoms, it combines them into the O2 molecule. Easy not? pic.twitter.com/f7IzDzZUI6
– Dr. Peter Broz (@ chmee2) April 21, 2021
The actual production of oxygen on Mars is critical not only to astronauts on this planet, but also to propel rockets on their way back to Earth. Thus, on-site oxygen production would greatly simplify the logistics of space missions. Scientists are also betting on the fission of carbon dioxide because the gas makes up 96% of Mars’ atmosphere.
The test of oxygen production technology is one of the four main scientific goals of the Explorer of Perseverance, who landed on our neighboring planet on February 18th.
Chariot on Mars
Other goals are to identify environments that may have supported microbial life in the past, to search for signs of possible past life in such environments, and to excavate rock and “soil” samples. You must then take them to Earth for the next mission.