MIT designed Mars Oxygen Factory Extracts First Oxygen from Red Planet

By: | September 5th, 2022

Image courtesy Wikimedia Commons

As scientists are planning to make Mars habitable, they will have to arrange for necessities for their survival. The most basic and important thing will be the Oxygen we breathe here on Earth

However, conditions on Mars today aren’t exactly human-friendly. Mars has an unbreathable carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere but Co2 is a poisonous gas for humans. Although our atmosphere also has Co2, it makes up far less than 1% of our atmosphere.

Unfortunately, the Co2 concentration on Mars is 96% of the air. Moreover, oxygen on Mars has just one-tenth of 1% of the air, which is not enough for human survival.

But there is good news now!

MIT designed MOXIE experiment shipped to Mars has been successfully producing oxygen using Co2 since April 2021. Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) touched down on the Martian surface as part of NASA’s Perseverance rover mission.

This Briefcase-Sized instrument is using electrolysis process for splitting Martian carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide and oxygen.

“This is the first demonstration of actually using resources on the surface of another planetary body, and transforming them chemically into something that would be useful for a human mission,” says Moxie deputy principal investigator Jeffrey Hoffman. “It’s historic in that sense.” 

Hoffman added, “To support a human mission to Mars, we have to bring a lot of stuff from Earth, like computers, spacesuits, and habitats,” “But dumb old oxygen? If you can make it there, go for it – you’re way ahead of the game.”


Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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