In another historical first, the Perseverance Rover makes Oxygen from Martian surface Carbon Dioxide
Kennedy Space Center, United States, April 22 2021: NASA’s Perseverance Rover, the six wheeled robot has crossed another hurdle making history as for the first time ever, a craft has converted some Carbon Dioxide from Mars into breathable Oxygen. “This is a critical first step at converting carbon dioxide to oxygen on Mars,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s space technology mission directorate.
The successful demonstration took place on April 20 and shows how its now possible for the equipment to make oxygen for astronauts to breathe and could also mean crafts will not not have to haul massive amounts of oxygen from earth to use as rocket propellant for the return journey.
This technique of producing Oxygen from 96% carbon dioxide dominant Mars atmosphere is thought to be more feasible than breaking the ice on the planet and electrolysing it to make Oxygen.
The equipment is called the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment or MOXIE and is a golden box roughly the size of a car battery, which is located inside the front right side of the rover. It has been dubbed a mechanical tree that uses electricity to split Carbon Dioxide to make oxygen with Carbon monoxide as a byproduct of the reaction.
Designed at the MIT, and built our of heat resistant nickel alloy, it can tolerate heat of up to 800 degree celsius and in the initial test run MOXIE produced 5 grams of oxygen, equivalent to about 10 minutes of breathable oxygen for an astronaut who is doing normal work. But the MOXIE’s engineers will now run more tests and try to boost the output. So far its design allows for 10 grams of Oxygen to be generated
In a historical moment, the Perseverance landed on the Red Planet on the 18th of February this year on a mission to search for signs for microbial life. In its landmark achievement, mini helicopter Ingenuity attached to the Perseverance made the first powered flight on another planet.
In another Maverick achievement, the Perseverance rover itself has also directly recorded the sounds of Mars for the first time ever.
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