On the red surface of our neighboring planet Mars, a cubicle called MOXIE coordinated by the Perseverance rover it is proving that it can be developed reliably and in any oxygen season, since it works like a small tree.
The MIT-led Mars Oxygen In Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, or MOXIE, has been producing oxygen from the Red Planet’s carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere since about April 2021. two months after it landed on the martian surface as part of the NASA project.
According to the MIT statement, the study, which was published in the journal Science Advancesreported that researchers at the end of the year 2021 thanks to MOXIE were able to produce oxygen in seven experimental runs, in a variety of atmospheric conditions, including during the day and at night. On each run, the instrument met its goal of producing six grams of oxygen per hour, about the rate of a modest tree on Earth.
The researchers anticipate, according to the report, that an expanded version of MOXIE could be sent to Mars before a human mission to continuously produce oxygen at the speed of hundreds of trees in order to generate enough oxygen to make it easier for humans to stay each time they step on the Red Planet and fuel a rocket so they can return to Earth
Michael Hechtprincipal investigator of the MOXIE mission at MIT’s Haystack Observatory, said that thanks to this innovation they had “learned a lot” from this experiment.
“This is the first demonstration of the actual use of resources on the surface of another planetary body and their chemical transformation into something that would be useful for a human mission,” explained MOXIE Deputy Principal Investigator, Jeffrey Hoffmann, professor of practice in the MIT Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics. “It’s historic in that sense.”
The current version of MOXIE has a small designto fit aboard the Perseverance rover, and is designed to run for short periods, turning on and off with each run.
Despite the size of its design, it has been shown to be able to reliably and efficiently convert Mars’ atmosphere into pure oxygen. it does sucking in martian air through a filter that cleans it of contaminants. The air is then pressurized and sent through the Solid Oxide Electrolyzer (SOXE), an instrument developed and built by OxEon Energy, which electrochemically splits carbon dioxide-rich air into oxygen and carbon monoxide ions.
After this, the oxygen ions are isolated and recombined to form breathable molecular oxygen (O2), which MOXIE then measures for quantity and purity before harmlessly releasing it into the air, along with carbon monoxide and other atmospheric gases.