NASA turns CO2 into oxygen on Mars

Web DeskWeb Editor

22nd Apr, 2021. 12:07 pm
NASA's Perseverance Rover turns some of the air on Mars into breathable oxygen

NASA’s newest six-wheeled robot on the surface of Mars, includes converting some of the Red Planet’s thin, carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere into oxygen.

NASA in its statement said that a toaster-size, experimental instrument aboard Perseverance called the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) accomplished the task.

For rockets or astronauts, oxygen is key, said MOXIE’s principal investigator, Michael Hecht

Mars’ atmosphere is 96% carbon dioxide. MOXIE works by separating oxygen atoms from carbon dioxide molecules, which are made up of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms. A waste product, carbon monoxide, is emitted into the Martian atmosphere.

The conversion process requires high levels of heat to reach a temperature of approximately 1,470 degrees Fahrenheit (800 Celsius).

To accommodate this, the MOXIE unit is made with heat-tolerant materials. These include 3D-printed nickel alloy parts, which heat and cool the gases flowing through it, and a lightweight aerogel that helps hold in the heat.

A thin gold coating on the outside of MOXIE reflects infrared heat, keeping it from radiating outward and potentially damaging other parts of Perseverance. 

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