NASA sends rover to Mars to turn CO2 into Oxygen


According to Science Alert, NASA launched the Perseverance Mars rover from Cape Canaveral, Florida on July 30. ~

Carrying a host of cutting-edge technology including high-definition video equipment and the first interplanetary helicopter, the rover is set to land on Mars on February 18, 2021. Many of the tools on the rover are designed as experimental steps toward human exploration of the red planet. One of these tools, specifically, is designed to attempt to produce oxygen on a planet where the gas makes up less than 0.2 percent of the atmosphere. This device is called the MOXIE: Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment. ~

The MOXIE is a car-battery-sized robot that is a roughly 1 percent scale model of the device scientists hope to one day send to Mars. Although it is designed specifically for the thin Martian atmosphere, MOXIE is designed like a tree. Like a tree, MOXIE works by taking in carbon dioxide then electrochemically splitting the molecules into oxygen and carbon monoxide and combining the oxygen molecules into O2. MOXIE then analyzes the O2 for purity, shooting for about 99.6 percent O2. It then releases the breathable oxygen and the carbon monoxide back into the planet’s atmosphere. In the future, however, NASA hopes to store the oxygen produced in tanks for use by humans and rockets. ~

MOXIE will test its capabilities by producing oxygen in one-hour increments intermittently throughout the duration of Perseverance’s mission, according to NASA. Additionally, NASA claimed it “is preparing for human exploration of Mars, and the MOXIE investigation on the Mars 2020 mission aims to address key knowledge gaps, including: demonstration of In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) technologies to enable propellant and consumable oxygen production from the Martian atmosphere, and characterization of atmospheric dust size and morphology to understand its effects on the operation of surface systems.” ~


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