Why in News?
- NASA has converted carbon dioxide from the Martian atmosphere into pure, breathable oxygen.
How NASA achieved it?
- The extraction of oxygen, literally out of thin air on Mars, was achieved by an experimental device aboard Perseverance.
- In its first activation, the instrument dubbed MOXIE, short for Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilisation Experiment, produced about 5 grams of oxygen, equivalent to roughly 10 minutes’ worth of breathing for an astronaut
- The instrument works through electrolysis, which uses extreme heat to separate oxygen atoms from molecules of carbon dioxide, which accounts for about 95% of the atmosphere on Mars.
- The remaining 5% of Mars’ atmosphere, which is only about 1% as dense Earth’s, consists primarily of molecular nitrogen and argon. Oxygen exists on Mars in negligible trace amounts.
Need for MOXIE
- An abundant supply is considered critical to eventual human exploration of the Red Planet, both as a sustainable source of breathable air for astronauts and as a necessary ingredient for rocket fuel to fly them home.
- Transporting a one-ton oxygen-conversion machine to Mars is more practical than trying to haul 25 tons of oxygen in tanks from Earth
- Astronauts living and working on Mars would require perhaps one metric ton of oxygen between them to last an entire year
- Oxygen (O₂) is also an integral part of the chemistry that propels a rocket. Thrust is achieved by burning a fuel in the presence of an oxidiser, which could be simple oxygen.
To know about Perseverance Rover and Ingenuity Helicopter:
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