October 1, 2022


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NASA succeeds in generating stable oxygen with the installation of "MOXIE" on the Mars rover Japan.

NASA succeeds in generating stable oxygen with the installation of “MOXIE” on the Mars rover Japan.

NASA’s Persevering Mars rover carried a small, gold-colored experimental instrument called MOXIE during its launch to Mars in July 2020. MOXIE is an acronym for “Mars In Situ Resource Utilization Experiment.”

Provided by: NASA/JPL-CalTech

Since then, MOXIE has been producing oxygen from the thin atmosphere of Mars.

And on August 31, the team that conducted the experiment published a paper in the journal Science Advances, confirming that MOXIE works remarkably well. In fact, the oxygen production of the device is comparable to the average production of a tree on Earth.

As of the end of 2021, detailed data showed that MOXIE had reached its target oxygen production level of 6 g/h in seven separate experimental cycles. In addition, these experiments were conducted under different atmospheric conditions, such as day and night, and different seasons on Mars.

“The only environmental conditions we haven’t been able to demonstrate are the extreme temperature fluctuations at dawn and dusk,” says Michael Hecht, the MOXIE mission principal investigator at MIT’s Haystack Observatory.He said in a press release. “But we have a trump card in place to make that possible. If we test it in the lab, we’ll be able to hit the last important milestone: ‘It can be run at any time of the day.'” “

For scientists, and national space agencies in particular, it is very reassuring that MOXIE delivers consistent results. Because of the timetable for sending astronauts to Mars, there is a deadline looming on how to keep astronauts safe during their future explorations of Mars.

For example, SpaceX CEO Elon Musk appears to have set a target date for sending humans to Mars in 2029. In addition, NASA’s planned lunar exploration mission “Artemis 1”Planned in the thirties or fortiesIt paves the way for Mars exploration. “To support human exploration on Mars, we need to bring in a variety of things from Earth, including computers, spacesuits, and living facilities,” Jeffrey Hoffman, a professor at MIT and deputy principal investigator at MOXIE, said in the statement. “But what about oxygen? If we could produce oxygen locally, we would have no choice but to do so.

So far, the MOXIE is a very small device, roughly the size of a toaster. But this is not a bad story. If the scientists could somehow increase the volume of the square cubes that make up the device, it would be possible to produce much more oxygen than the current production of 6 grams per hour.

“We’ve learned so much that we should be able to apply that information to larger systems in the future,” Hecht said.

In the future, researchers expect, they will be able to produce the same amount of oxygen as hundreds of trees. That could help keep astronauts on Mars alive, or provide the oxygen they need to fuel rockets to bring crews back to Earth.

This article is from Red Ventures abroadArticle – CommodityEdited by Asahi Interactive for Japan.