This is a historic feat that NASA scientists achieved through the Perseverance rover: the robot transformed carbon dioxide from the atmosphere of Mars to make oxygen.
After the first flight of a human craft on Mars, the first attempt to convert carbon dioxide into oxygen on the red planet. The mission of the Perseverance rover is, for the moment, a great success. On April 20, NASA succeeded in converting CO2 into oxygen on Mars, thanks to the Perseverance robot . The space agency now hopes that this experience will serve to prepare the ground for an exploration of the red planet by humans.
This device used by the robot could facilitate space exploration, producing oxygen for astronauts , without having to carry oxygen cylinders from Earth. Oxygen is also used to propel rockets into space, so it is a key component for all space travel.
This experiment was carried out with a Moxie box (Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment), located at the front of the rover. This box uses electricity and chemistry to split CO2 molecules , thereby separating oxygen from carbon monoxide.
In this first test, Moxie produced five grams of oxygen , enough for an astronaut to breathe for 10 minutes if he maintains normal activity. After this test, NASA engineers will multiply the experiments to try to produce more oxygen and really master this new technology. According to engineers’ calculations, Moxie could produce up to 10 grams of oxygen per hour .
The box is about the size of a 17 kilogram car battery and is coated with a thin layer of gold, to withstand temperatures up to 800 degrees Celsius .
NASA is already thinking about future applications of such technology. With a one-ton Moxie, a rocket could get the 25 tons of oxygen it needs to take off from Mars.