The Perseverance, NASA’s newest six-wheeled robot on the Martian surface, prioritizes a thin, carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere into oxygen on the planet Mars. Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE), a toaster-size, experimental instrument aboard Perseverance, accomplished the task. The test took place on 20 April 2021 on the 60th Martian day.
Technology is just getting started, and it could make way for science fiction to become science fact storing and isolating oxygen on Mars. This would help power rockets that could lift astronauts off the Mars surface. Such instruments can provide breathable air for astronauts for one day.
MOXIE is an exploration technology investigation, the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer weather station, and is sponsored by Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate and NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate((STMD). According to Jim Reuter, associate administrator for STMD, “This is a critical first step at converting carbon dioxide to oxygen on Mars.” He also shared that MOXIE has more work to do and the result from the technology demonstration are full of promises. On oxygen Rocket, propellant depends, and to make the trip home, future explorers will rely on producing fuel on Mars.
More oxygen by weight a rocket must burn its fuel. Offering four astronauts on a future mission would require approximately 25 metric tons of oxygen and seven metric tons of rocket fuel on the Martian surface. Astronauts working and living on Mars would require less amount of oxygen.
Taking 25 metrics of oxygen from Earth to Mars will be an arduous task. Transporting a one-ton oxygen converter – a more prominent, more powerful descendant of MOXIE would be far more economical and practical than could produce those 25 tons. 96% carbon dioxide is there on Mars.
MOXIE separates oxygen atoms from carbon dioxide molecules made of two oxygen atoms and one carbon atom. Into the Martian atmosphere, carbon monoxide is emitted, which is a waste product. A high heat level to reach a temperature of approximately 1,470 degrees Fahrenheit is required for the conversion process. The MOXIE unit is made with heat-tolerant materials to accommodate this.