WHAT’S BEING CLAIMED:
- NASA’s Perseverance rover has successfully converted carbon dioxide into oxygen on Mars.
- The agency uses an instrument called ‘Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment,’ also known as MOXIE.
- MOXIE will help in NASA’s future missions to produce breathable air in the solar system.
In another milestone on Wednesday, NASA confirmed that the Perseverance rover successfully converted carbon dioxide into oxygen on Mars. The event marked the first-ever presence of breathable air on another planet.
NASA utilized a device called MOXIE (Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment). As the red planet’s atmosphere is 96 percent carbon dioxide, MOXIE functions to set apart oxygen atoms from molecules of carbon dioxide.
NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate Jim Reuter said that it was a crucial “first step” of converting “carbon dioxide to oxygen on Mars.”
“MOXIE has more work to do, but the results from this technology demonstration are full of promise as we move toward our goal of one day seeing humans on Mars.”
During the pilot testing of MOXIE, it was able to generate around five grams of oxygen. It was tantamount to a 10-minute breathable air for an astronaut. In an hour, the device can produce about 10 grams of oxygen.
MOXIE is anticipated to produce oxygen at least nine times higher in one Martian year, which is equivalent to almost two years on Earth.
Per NASA, generating oxygen outside the Earth is crucial since rockets use it to burn fuel. According to the agency, there should be more presence of oxygen than a rocket’s weight.
In a statement, NASA’s director of technology demonstrations of the Perseverance rover mission Trudy Kortes said that MOXIE was not just the first-ever tool to generate oxygen outside Earth, but it would also aid in future missions that would “live off the land,” using resources outside the world.
“It’s taking regolith, the substance you find on the ground, and putting it through a processing plant, making it into a large structure, or taking carbon dioxide — the bulk of the atmosphere — and converting it into oxygen,” Kortes said. “This process allows us to convert these abundant materials into useable things: propellant, breathable air, or, combined with hydrogen, water.”
Just last week, NASA also successfully had its first-ever controlled aircraft ‘Ingenuity’ on Mars. The mini helicopter was briefly able to hover above the Red planet.
Source: CBS News