Monday, May 10, 2021

NASA’s Perseverance rover produced free oxygen on Mars

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What is the problem?: Future astronauts will need oxygen to breathe and live, but oxygen is also an essential component of rocket fuel. A single rocket launch off the surface of Mars carrying four astronauts could require about 25 metric tons of oxygen. The Martian atmosphere is 95-96% carbon dioxide, so there is an abundant potential source to generate this oxygen – we just need the right technology that can harness it. MOXIE is far from being able to meet these needs, but it will lay the groundwork for larger conversion instruments.

And after?: There will be at least nine more tests over the next two years. The first series of tests that MOXIE is running is supposed to validate that the device really works. The second phase will perform the process in different types of atmospheric conditions and at different times of the Martian day and season. And the third will attempt tests that will push MOXIE to its limits.

Perseverance, meanwhile, continues to do an exciting job. the Ingenuity helicopter had her second flight on Thursday and is expected to fly at least three more times. The rover will then head outside to begin its search for extraterrestrial life, including finding potential samples to store delivery back to Earth one day.

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