Apr, 2021 - By WMR
On April 20, 2021, Perseverance rover utilized a bit of carbon dioxide from Mars’ air and converted into oxygen, NASA made the announcement regarding the same on April 21.
NASA’s Perseverance is a part of the Mars rover mission that was started in 2020. The mission is a part of NASA’s Mars exploration program, which includes the Perseverance rover as well as the helicopter Ingenuity. As of April 22, 2021, Ingenuity and Perseverance have been on Mars for a total of 63 days. As of recent announcement by NASA with respect to the Mars rover mission, the rover Perseverance was able to convert a bit of Mar’s atmospheric air into oxygen using the instrument called the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource utilization experiment, i.e., MOXIE.
The MOXIE instrument helped the Perseverance rover to separate oxygen (O2) from carbon dioxide molecule by heating a bit of Mars air at around 1470 degree Fahrenheit, which creates carbon monoxide as byproduct. In the first test by MOXIE, the instrument was able to produce around five gms of oxygen, which is almost enough to provide 10 min. of breathable air for a single astronaut. NASA announced that this experiment might help in the future missions to Mars which could involve human astronauts. Usually a single rocket carrying around four astronauts needs around 55,000 pounds O2 when the rocket launches from the ground. Since it is not possible to store more than a specific amount of oxygen inside the rocket, scientists are figuring out different ways so that they can make Mars exploration more viable for instance, producing oxygen form Mars’s air itself.
The production of breathable oxygen by the rover is another success by Perseverance rover and NASA. A week ago, NASA’s Ingenuity helicopter also completed its first flight to Mars successfully. The helicopter is also expected to explore Mars being a part of the Mars exploration program.