Scientists around the world have been searching for the possibility of life on Mars for years. For this, an attempt is being made to make oxygen and water here. In this episode, the American space agency NASA has achieved a big success. Indeed, a toaster-sized device sent to Mars has created oxygen for the first time. This study has been published in the journal Science Advances.
The name of this device is Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE). It was sent to Mars last year along with NASA’s Perseverance Rover mission. According to the researchers, MOXIE has been able to continuously create oxygen in the carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere of Mars since February 2021.
Made oxygen equal to a small tree
Scientists say that MOXIE makes oxygen in a variety of atmospheric conditions. It has been successful in all seasons of Mars, day and night. Seven experiments were conducted on the device and each time it produced 6 grams of oxygen per hour. That much oxygen makes a small tree as compared to the earth. On one occasion, it produced 10.4 grams of oxygen per hour.
How does MOXIE work?
The amount of carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere of Mars is 96%. MOXIE passes this gas through a fuel cell and heats it to 798.9 °C (1,470 °F). It then separates the carbon monoxide and oxygen atoms from CO2 with the help of electricity. Oxygen gas is then formed by combining oxygen atoms.
Michael Hecht, the lead scientist of the MOXIE mission at MIT, says – the air on Mars is very thin. It is like being 1 lakh feet above the surface of the earth. Still this device is working so well, it is a big success for us.
Preparing to make a bigger version of MOXIE
Scientists want to make a jumbo version of MOXIE. According to him, if a 100 times larger version of the device is made, it will be able to make oxygen at the rate of hundreds of trees. That is, from this 1 to 3 kg of oxygen can be made per hour. Hecht says that making this technology more advanced will not be a big challenge. The success of MOXIE is great news for the prospect of sending people to Mars and making them self-sufficient.
The road to Mars is still difficult
NASA Astronaut Geoffrey Hoffman says that it will take humans 8 months to go to Mars. In such a situation, it is necessary for people to have enough food and medicines. Apart from this, humans will have to face cosmic radiation on a large scale during the journey. But, the most important thing on Mars is oxygen. Astronauts will also need it to live temporarily.
Let us tell you that many space agencies of the world are preparing to send humans to Mars. China wants to send people to Mars by 2033, while SpaceX CEO Elon Musk is planning to send humans to Mars by 2029.