NASA’s goal is eventually to have humans on other planets, but one of the main problems is the oxygen supply of those said planets.
Now, NASA has reached a new milestone in the steps to colonize a new planet, and in this instance, this planet is Mars. Back in February, the space agency landed its brand new rover Perseverance on the Red Planet, and now the rover has used one of its instruments to successfully generate oxygen from the carbon dioxide-dominated air.
Perseverance used its Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) instrument, and according to the associate administrator of NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate, Jim Reuter, “This is a critical first step at 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.“
So how did the MOXIE instrument do this? The MOXIE instrument uses a conversion process that heats up carbon dioxide to temperatures of around 1,470 Fahrenheit (800 degrees Celsius), expelling carbon monoxide as waste. The NASA team dedicated to the MOXIE instrument heated the toaster-size instrument for 2 hours, and over an hour, the instrument produced 5.4 grams of oxygen, which would be enough to keep an astronaut breathing for 10 minutes.
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