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Mars rover "diligently" extracts oxygen - NASA is more than just breathing air

Mars rover “diligently” extracts oxygen – NASA is more than just breathing air

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Life on Mars is only possible if you bring oxygen with you – or just produce it there. The NASA rover “diligence” test has now succeeded.

One day people will set foot on Mars, the mission announced by the US space agency NASA and space pioneer Elon Musk. After all, he founded his space agency, SpaceX, only to one day become a “multiplier” for mankind, that is, to help him live on multiple planets. Humanity may now be a little closer to the goal of entering Mars – thanks to the “diligence” of the Mars rover.

In February 2021 the NASA rover landed on the red planet – when everyone was surprised to see the first planes of the small “ingenuity” helicopter on Mars – began another technical experiment. Great success: The “Moxie” instrument (Mars Oxygen in-situ resource utility test) extracted oxygen from Mars’ thin atmosphere on April 20, 2021.

Mars: NASA test “Moxy” extracts oxygen from the atmosphere

Technology can activate the path from “science fiction to science fiction”, and after a successful experiment they rejoice at NASA, which is really important: “Moxie” is about the size of a toaster and produces five grams of oxygen on the first attempt – in about ten minutes by an astronaut The amount used. “This is an important first step in converting carbon dioxide to oxygen on Mars,” said Jim Reuters of NASA’s Directorate of Space Technology Mission (SDMT).

NASA rover “diligence” (front) taking a selfie with Mars helicopter “ingenuity” (rear).


Moxie is designed to produce ten grams of oxygen per hour. The small device separates carbon dioxide from the Martian atmosphere with the help of heat and electricity. The result is oxygen – stored – and carbon monoxide, which is released into the Martian atmosphere by a small device called the Rover “diligence”. “Moxie still has a lot of work to do, but the results are promising,” Reuters explains.

Life on Mars: Not just for oxygen respiration

In the future, larger versions of “Moxie” may play a major role in exploring Mars. On the one hand, they allow astronauts to breathe oxygen inside, thus saving weight: the oxygen produced on Mars does not take up any space on the rocket. However, a very large amount of oxygen is used in a completely different area – this may not be known to many: the rocket also needs oxygen. NASA estimates that you need seven tons of rocket fuel and 25 tons of oxygen to expel four astronauts from the surface of Mars. It is “very economical and practical” to carry with you an oxygen converter that weighs only one ton more than 25 tons of oxygen.

It’s about the size of a toaster and Mars’ rover “Perseverance”: NASA test “Moxy” produces oxygen on Mars.


“Oxygen is not just the substance we breathe,” Reuters emphasized. “Future astronauts will depend on producing oxygen on Mars to return home.” Michael Heckt of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology explains.

NASA’s Mars Experiment: “Moxy” must continue to produce oxygen

On a Martian year (approximately two Earth years), “moxy” must extract oxygen from the atmosphere at least nine times. The first attempt is to show that the idea works. The device will then be tested in different atmospheric conditions – at different times of the day and seasons. In the third phase of the experiment, Hetch says the goal is to “go to the limit.”

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SDMT, which funds Moxie, is pleased with the results so far: “Moxie is not the first tool to produce oxygen in another world,” says Trudeau Cortes, head of the technology demonstration department. “This is the first technology to enable future journeys to use elements from the world’s first environment.” This approach, also known as “in-situ resource utilization”, should be applied to future moon landings as well. However, with regard to the moon, one is more likely to think about the use of lunar rocks or water. (Thanja Banner)

Category Image: © NASA / JPL