A significant scarcity is dominating Mars when it comes to oxygen, as less than 0.2 percent of the planet’s atmosphere contains this crucial element for all life forms on Earth. But this problem could go away in the future, and it’s certainly a mandatory step if humanity still aims to build a colony on the Red Planet someday.
NASA once again proposes a way to switch things into humanity’s favor. If it works, trips to Mars in the future for pretty much anyone are assured.
The Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment enters the cosmic scene
This device is attached to the Perseverance rover that NASA sent towards the Red Planet last month. The goal is to produce more oxygen in similar way plants do it on Earth: the device is supposed to guzzle CO2 from Mars and electrochemically split the molecules into oxygen and carbon monoxide. The next step is to combine the oxygen molecules into carbon dioxide. However, the MOXIE device (Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment) still represents a roughly 1 percent scale model of a bigger device that will hopefully reach Mars during the 2030s.
Michael Hecht, who is the principal investigator for MOXIE, reveals to us that we shouldn’t worry about the toxicity of the carbon monoxide produced:
If you release the carbon monoxide into the Mars atmosphere, eventually it will combine with a very small amount of residual oxygen that’s there and turn back into carbon dioxide,
A bigger goal for NASA’s Perseverance rover that will start exploring the surface of Mars after February 2021 is to find signs of ancient life dwelling on our neighboring planet. Furthermore, NASA hopes to send humans to the Red Planet in the near future if the upcoming Artemis program will prove itself successful. The mission aims to send astronauts to the Moon again by the year 2024.