NASA Plans to Create Oxygen on Mars by Using a Surprising Element

Humanity has been dreaming for many years that we’ll someday be able to move to Mars and eventually make friends with little green men that have big black eyes. But a similar scenario takes a lot of time and scientific effort.

While we are almost certain that there aren’t aliens living on Mars, or at least not like those we’ve all seen in the movies, there’s a good chance that in the far future astronomers will be able to build a colony there. But scientists are continuing to explore many hypotheses of how to ever reach such a milestone.

Making oxygen using gold

Our permanent need for oxygen proves that it’s totally fine to be addicted to something. NASA plans to make oxygen on Mars by using a golden box called MOXIE (Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment) that will be attached to the Perseverance rover. The tool will be turning CO2 into oxygen.

Michael Hecht, who is MOXIE’s principle investigator, declared:

When we send humans to Mars, we will want them to return safely, and to do that they need a rocket to lift off the planet. Liquid oxygen propellant is something we could make there and not have to bring with us. One idea would be to bring an empty oxygen tank and fill it up on Mars,

MOXIE engineer Jim Lewis offered an explanation of how the idea could be feasible:

We inject energy into the cathode and anode, then what happens is oxygen is separated from the CO2 and comes down this line over here.

The role of gold

The box will be made of gold because it will assure the lack of impact with any nearby electronics boxes from the rover. Gold doesn’t radiate heat effectively, because it has very low emissivity.

The upcoming experiment is part of the Mars 2020 mission of NASA, which includes sending the Perseverance rover to the Jerero crater from our neighboring planet.

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