NASA’s Perseverance research vehicle continues to make history.
The six-wheeled robot transformed some carbon dioxide from the Martian atmosphere into oxygen, the first time this has happened on another planet, the space agency said on Wednesday.
“This is a critical first step in converting carbon dioxide to oxygen on Mars,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator of NASA’s space technology mission board.
The ie demonstration technology demonstration took place on April 20, and it is hoped that future versions of the experimental instrument used could pave the way for future human research.
The process can not only produce oxygen for future astronauts to breathe, but it could make it unnecessary to transport vast amounts of oxygen from Earth to use as a rocket for the return trip.
The Mars Oxygen Resource Usage Experiment – or MOXIE – is a gold box the size of a car battery, and is located inside the front right side of the research vehicle.
Called the “mechanical tree,” it uses electricity and chemistry to break down molecules of carbon dioxide, which consist of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms.
It also produces carbon monoxide as a by-product.
In its first run, MOXIE produced 5 grams of oxygen, equivalent to about 10 minutes of breathable oxygen for an astronaut performing normal activity.
MOXIE engineers will now do further testing and try to increase its result. It is designed to be able to generate up to 10 grams of oxygen per hour.
Designed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, MOXIE was constructed of heat-resistant materials such as nickel alloy and designed to tolerate the combustion temperatures of 800 celsius) necessary for it to function.
A thin gold coating ensures that it does not radiate its heat and damages the research vehicle.
MIT engineer Michael Hecht said one tonne version of MOXIE could produce the approximately 55,000 pounds (25 tons) of oxygen needed for a rocket to explode from Mars.
Producing oxygen from Mars ’96 percent carbon dioxide atmosphere could be a more viable choice than extracting ice from beneath its surface and electrolyzing it to make oxygen.
Persistence landed on the Red Planet on February 18 on a mission to look for signs for microbial life.
Its mini-helicopter Experience created history this week with the first electric flight on another planet.
The spacecraft itself also directly recorded the sounds of Mars for the first time.
A perseverance rover lands on Mars this week
NASA: www.nasa.gov/press-release/nas … ygen-from-red-planet
© 2021 AFP
Quote: First, a Perseverance Mars research vehicle produces oxygen on another planet (2021, April 22) retrieved April 22, 2021 from https://phys.org/news/2021-04-perseverance-mars-rover-oxygen-planet.html
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