NASA seems to have achieved another first, after its successful flight helicopter on the planet Mars. The space research company has managed to extract some oxygen from the planet's atmosphere, which is made up of 96 percent carbon dioxide.
The Perseverance rover has an experimental toaster-sized instrument called the Toaster Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, known as MOXIE and on Tuesday managed to extract oxygen atoms from carbon dioxide molecules to create pure oxygen.
"This is a crucial first step in converting carbon dioxide to oxygen on Mars."He said Jim Reuter, Deputy Managing Director of NASA's Space Technology Mission. "MOXIE still has a lot of work to do, but the results of this technological demonstration are very promising, as we move towards our goal of one day seeing people on Mars."
Reuter adds that similar technology could be used to build propellant rockets and breathable air for future explorers.
In its first test, MOXIE extracted about 5 grams of oxygen equivalent to about 10 minutes of breathing air per person. The device is designed to produce up to 10 grams of oxygen per hour, so it can not yet offer adequate survival conditions. However, NASA hopes to be able to use more powerful successors to this device, which will produce many tons of oxygen during their lifetime.
The MOXIE is scheduled to extract oxygen at least nine more times during the first two years of the rover's voyage. MOXIE lead researcher Michael Hecht says the team "will try to run the experiment under different conditions, hours of the day and season."
This technology can bring people one step closer to settling on Mars!