The day a man sets foot on Mars is approaching again thanks to a device the size of a toaster. “Moxie” should make it possible to convert carbon dioxide, which is abundant on Mars, into the oxygen necessary for human survival on the Red Planet.
Gurusource: Washington Post
Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology say the experiment using Mars’ in-situ oxygen resources, shortened to Moxie, has succeeded in making oxygen from carbon dioxide. the study It was published this week in the journal Science Advances. This experiment is part of NASA’s Perseverance Rover mission, the robot that landed on Mars in February 2021.
The device in question is basically a small box that’s no bigger than a toaster, but still has the ability to produce the same amount of oxygen as the little tree. According to NASA, this is the first time ever that humans have successfully diverted resources from another planet to enable future human missions.
The lure of Mars is getting louder. China hopes to have an astronaut on this planet by 2033. Elon Musk, CEO of private spaceX, hopes to land there four years ago on a human mission. But getting humans to Mars requires complex hurdles to overcome. Astronauts have to withstand high levels of cosmic rays during the long journey to the planet. Traveling to and from Mars can take more than 8 months, which means that enough food and medicine must be carried for space travelers.
Perhaps most importantly, says Jeffrey Hoffman, a former NASA astronaut and deputy principal investigator for the Moxie mission, there must be a reliable source of oxygen. Astronauts must be able to breathe in any temporary habitat they have established on Mars, as well as in spacesuits when exploring the planet. It is also an important propellant to fuel the rocket they need to return to Earth from Mars.
In principle, it is also practically possible to send oxygen to Mars, but this would require several rocket launches. It’s an expensive issue, and in any case more expensive than if you could produce oxygen yourself from carbon dioxide on Mars.
To be truly surgical, the researchers hope to increase Moxie’s oxygen production capacity several times over. In any case, it is hoped that the device will work most of the time of the Martian day, during the night and during the day. Engineers also want to make sure the machine can withstand wear and tear and can be used for many thousands of hours of continuous operation.