NASA Creates Breathable Oxygen on Mars
World 1st: Pure, Usable Oxygen Extracted on Mars
Source: NASA - MOXIE
MOXIE Science Rover Did the Job
NASA's Mars Mission has achieved another world first. It has extracted breathable, pure oxygen from the thin Martian atmosphere. This extraordinary feat was accomplished by a piece of technology onboard the Perserance rover. MOXIE, a small science rover that is the size of a toaster - extracted and converted carbon dioxide into oxygen. MOXIE stands for Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment.
MOXIE uses electrolysis to separate molecules of oxygen from molecules of carbon dioxide, using extreme heat. 95% of the Martian atmosphere is composed of carbon dioxide. The initial oxygen created was small: about enough to provide ten minutes worth of oxygen to an astronaut. But it is the first time in history that a natural resource, directly usable by human, has been extracted on another planet.
NASA believes that this breakthrough technology can be massively scaled up and that it will help future missions to "live off the land" of the planet. MOXIE's Principal Investigator Michael Hecht of MIT says putting a one ton MOXIE on Mars to produce 1 metric ton of oxygen could sustain 4 astronauts for a year.