NASA made enough oxygen on Mars to last an astronaut for 100 minutes

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NASA’s MOXIE experimentation connected Mars has produced astir 100 minutes’ worthy of breathable oxygen, raising hopes for aboriginal crewed missions

Space 31 August 2022

By Jacklin Kwan

Artist's conception  pf Perseverance rover

The MOXIE experimentation landed connected Mars connected NASA’s Perseverance rover (artists’s impression)

NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASA’s tiny experiment to nutrient oxygen connected Mars managed to make astir 100 minutes’ worthy of breathable oxygen successful 2021. Now it is acceptable to beryllium scaled up to enactment aboriginal quality exploration.

The Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) is simply a tiny oxygen-generating instrumentality that landed connected the Red Planet atop the Perseverance rover successful February 2021.

Over the people of 7 hour-long accumulation runs during that year, MOXIE was capable to reliably nutrient astir 15 minutes of oxygen per hr successful a assortment of harsh planetary conditions. That added up to a full of 50 grams of oxygen successful full – astir 100 minutes’ worthy of breathable oxygen for a azygous astronaut.

“At the highest level, this is conscionable a superb success,” says Michael Hecht astatine the Massachusetts Institute of Technology Haystack Observatory, who co-leads the MOXIE experiment.

In time oregon night, astatine antithetic utmost temperatures and successful the aftermath of a particulate storm, Hecht says that MOXIE continued producing high-purity oxygen.

The NASA squad is present looking to make a bigger mentation of the device, which would nutrient not lone capable beingness enactment for a crewed Mars mission, but besides capable oxygen to propel a instrumentality rocket to Earth.

MOXIE requires pumps and compressors to suck successful c dioxide from the Martian ambiance arsenic good arsenic heaters that tin rise the air’s somesthesia to 800°C (1470°F).

The instrumentality past pulls the oxygen atoms from the c dioxide to nutrient oxygen gas, which MOXIE has been measuring, earlier releasing it.

There volition beryllium immoderate challenges successful scaling up this technology, though, says Gerald Sanders astatine the NASA Johnson Space Center successful Houston, Texas.

These see being capable to insulate a larger mentation of MOXIE to negociate its interior somesthesia and ensuring that the instrumentality heats up uniformly to forestall it from breaking.

Sanders besides says that an oxygen instrumentality that tin enactment a quality ngo would request to run continuously for astir 400 days, and truthful far, MOXIE’s runs person lone lasted for an hr each.

“That’s a batch of hours to enactment connected the hardware, irrespective of what the exertion is,” helium says.

Nonetheless, MOXIE’s archetypal twelvemonth of occurrence has been a large measurement guardant successful showing the technology’s potential, says Sanders.

NASA is present investigating the hardware needed astatine a standard that would beryllium applicable to a quality mission. The larger mentation is apt to beryllium astir a cubic metre successful size, which shouldn’t contiguous a occupation for launches.

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