Earlier today, news emerged of a reference achievement of humanity artificially synthesizing oxygen in an extraterrestrial world for the first time. The achievement is courtesy of Moxie, a tiny toasted instrument on the NASA Perseverance spacecraft that has been tasked with a critical experiment that may one day help humanity establish a colony on another planet – or rather, do so by generating enough oxygen to do so. self-sustaining. Considering how critical oxygen is related to space exploration, Moxie and its achievements will be considered pioneering, although the first success is just the preamble of a long journey that will last two years.
As Mars got a little more oxygen
Moxie, which means Mars oxygen on-site resource experiment, is a small instrument that has many filters and a motor to generate heat, which is essential for the chemical equation of this experiment. In its first stage, Moxie used its filters to capture atmospheric carbon dioxide from the thin atmosphere of the red planet. Once trapped, it then passed through more filters to be cleaned, in preparation for the next steps of the process.
The subsequent steps of oxygen synthesis included applying heat inside Moxie’s gold leaf chambers to separate the carbon dioxide molecule, which then divided it into oxygen and carbon monoxide. Using this process, Moxie could increase production of 5.4 grams of atmospheric oxygen in one hour – enough for a man on Mars to breathe for 10 minutes. The process will continue for one full March year, according to which NASA claims to be key to understanding circumstances surrounding oxygen synthesis in different circumstances in space.
Speaking about the achievement, Trudy Kortes, director of technology demonstrations at the NASA space technology board (STMD), said, “Moxie is not only the first instrument to produce oxygen in another world. It is the first technology of its kind to help future missions. “living off the earth”, using elements of the other world environment, also known as local resource use.It takes a regolith, the substance you find on earth, and transmits it through a processing plant, transforming it into a large structure, or by taking carbon dioxide – most of the atmosphere – and converting it into oxygen. “
The way forward
The first step is just the first experiment of the first mission on Moxie in the researcher NASA Perseverance. Subsequently, Moxie will carry out 10 experiments spread across three phases throughout the entire March year, which is about two Earth years. After the first phase of characterization of the instrument with the Martian atmosphere, the second phase will include oxygen synthesis through various circumstances such as different hours of the day and different seasons on Mars. The third phase will be more experimental, involving different operating modes to experiment with creating oxygen more efficiently.
Going forward, the oxygen generated will not only be important for setting up human missions and explorations from different worlds, but also maximizing the potential range of space missions to distant worlds. As Jim Reuter, associate administrator of NASA STMD, said, “Moxie has more work to do, but the results of this demonstration demonstration technology are full of promise as we aim to one day see humans on Mars. Oxygen is not the only thing that we are breathing. A rocket fuse depends on oxygen, and future researchers will depend on the production of fuse on Mars to return home. “
So this is just the preamble for Moxie, the little machine tasked with showing future human explorers the way to breathe – and get home.
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