The MOXIE (Mars Oxygen Resource Utilization Experiment) instrument has been launched on the red planet 16 times. The last time was on August 7, thus ending the series of experiments. During this time, a total of 122 grams of oxygen were produced. NASA explained in a press release that humans need about 840 grams of oxygen per day to survive, which means the oxygen generated by MOXY will last for astronauts for approximately three and a half hours.
– MOXIE’s impressive results show that it is possible to extract oxygen from the Martian atmosphere. NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Milroy said oxygen could supply air or rocket fuel to future astronauts. She added: “Developing technologies that allow us to harness the resources of the Moon and Mars is critical to building a long-term presence on the Moon, creating a strong lunar economy, and enabling us to support the initial human exploration campaign on Mars.” .
The MOXIE experience is complete
Working at maximum efficiency, MOXIE was able to produce 12 grams of oxygen per hour, double the original goals NASA set for this device. In addition, the resulting oxygen was 98 percent pure or higher. During the 16th final test, the device produced 9.8 grams of oxygen. MOXIE has met all expectations, operating in a variety of conditions throughout the Martian year.
“We are proud to support advanced technology like MOXIE that can transform local resources into useful products for future exploration missions,” said NASA’s Trudy Curtis.
How does Moxy work? The atmosphere of Mars is approximately 96 percent carbon dioxide. The remaining 4 percent consists mainly of nitrogen and argon. Oxygen makes up only 0.13%. Composition of the Martian atmosphere. MOXIE produces oxygen by separating oxygen atoms from carbon dioxide molecules, which consist of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms.
MOXIE draws in Martian air and passes it through filters to remove pollutants. The air then goes to a SOXE device, which uses electrochemical processes to separate the air into oxygen and carbon monoxide ions. The oxygen ions are then isolated and recombined to produce molecular oxygen. Eventually, the oxygen ends up in the Martian atmosphere. Moxy’s effect on the Red Planet’s atmosphere is negligible. In its current form, moxi produces as much oxygen as a medium-sized tree.
The first of its kind
Project MOXIE was the first ever demonstration of technology that could enable humans to survive on and off the Red Planet. The oxygen-generating system could help future missions in many ways, but the most important is by using it as a source of rocket fuel that will be needed in industrial quantities to launch the rockets carrying astronauts home. So, instead of taking large amounts of oxygen with them to Mars, future astronauts could live off Earth, using materials found on site to survive, thanks to the MOXIE device.
“MOXIE has undoubtedly served as an inspiration for the community to explore the possibility of using in-situ resources on other celestial bodies,” said Michael Hecht of MIT, where the instrument was designed and built.
Hecht and his team have learned a lot about how to design a more efficient version of the device through their experiments on Mars. But the researchers are now thinking not about building more efficient equipment, but rather about creating a complete system that includes an oxygen generator like Moxy and a way to liquefy and store it.
The success of MOXIE is of great importance for potential human missions to Mars because it demonstrates the ability to generate essential oxygen for astronauts. A potential future mission could be equipped with a much larger device that operates continuously, rather than just a few hours at a time when Perseverance is not engaged in other missions. The complete system Hecht mentioned could store tens of tons of oxygen needed to create breathable air for astronauts, as well as produce fuel to take them home.
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