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Extrait du premier panorama de Mars photographié avec la Mastcam-Z de Perseverance. © Nasa, JPL-Caltech

Oxygen was first produced on another planet!

For the last NASA rover to land on Mars since last February, the successes follow each other. NASA has released a new first announcement: it has created oxygen using elements available on the on-board instrument site.

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If men want a day Conquer Mars, They need to learn how to make them Oxygen Right there. Using elements of the environment of this world. With this in mind, NASA engineers have imagined Tuesday Oxygen in-situ resource utility test. A Demonstrator The size of a car battery is affectionately known as the Moxy, which is diligently carried to the Red Planet by the rover.

This Tuesday, April 20, it was tested for the first time. With success. Moxie replaces the oxygen (O) part of the thin layerMars Atmosphere, A Atmosphere Carbon dioxide (CO2). He produced about five grams – enough to allow an astronaut to breathe for 10 minutes.

« Moxie still has work to do, but the results of this technological demonstration have great promise as we one day move toward our goal of seeing humans on Mars. ”, Said Jim Reuters, co-executive with the Directorate of Space Technology Services at NASA Communication. “Oxygen is not just what we breathe. Our impulses Rockets Depending on the oxygen, future researchers will return home depending on the production of oxygen on Mars. “

Before proceeding, let us look at some statistics. NASA says a rocket will need 25 tons of oxygen and seven tons of fuel to return to Earth to launch from Mars. To produce that much oxygen, you need a ton of moxie. One is attached to the front right Rover diligence Weighing less than 20 kg. But it should be noted that for a whole year spent on Mars, a human colonist would consume only a ton of oxygen.

Oxygen production cycles have not yet arrived

In order to avoid carrying so much oxygen from Earth to Mars, engineers imagined a rescue – with Emission From Carbon monoxide (CO) – The Atoms Oxygen available in CO2 This is 96% of Mars’ atmosphere. The Moxie protester was initially there to show the opportunity to travel with such a tool The red planet. Proceed to the test oxygen extraction phase for the next two years.

Remember that process Separation Atoms occur at a temperature of about 800 C. So Moxie was designed accordingly. From parts Alloy Nickel, which heats and cools the gases passing through them, a Aircel This helps to retain the heat and the thin layer of gold, which prevents external radiation, thus damaging other areas of diligence.

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Now that the first test has been successfully completed, production runs will continue as follows. The first stage will be used to check and classify the functionality of the tool. The second stage involves operating the instrument in different atmospheric conditions, i.e. at different times of the day and different seasons. In the third stage, the engineers count “Push limits” For example by trying new operating modes.

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