NASA has managed to produce oxygen on Mars, successfully completing a sensational experiment. But how was this technological and scientific achievement achieved? On board the Perseverance rover, a device, the MOXIE, managed to generate oxygen for several hours.
MOXIE generated a total of 122 grams of oxygen, comparable to how much a small dog breathes in about 10 hours. At its maximum efficiency, the device produced 12 grams of oxygen. Having finally completed all of its tasks, it is clear that engineers on the ground will have much to learn from these findings.
NASA Deputy Administrator Pamela Melroy explained: "MOXIE's incredible performance shows that it is feasible to extract oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, which could provide breathable air and even rocket propellant for future astronauts." Trudy Kortes, director at NASA, added: "We are proud to have supported a technological breakthrough like MOXIE, capable of transforming local resources into useful products for future exploration missions."
Mars 2020 is a space mission for the exploration of Mars that was developed by NASA, whose launch took place successfully on July 30, 2020 and its arrival on the surface of Mars was equally successful.
The mission is mainly focused on sending Perseverance to the surface of Mars, a rover derived from its predecessor Curiosity to reduce costs, to which several improvements have been applied. In addition to the rover there is a small demonstration helicopter called Ingenuity.
The primary objectives of the mission are to study the habitability of Mars, to investigate its past and to search for traces of possible biological life. Furthermore, the storage of geological samples is planned to allow the future Mars Sample Return mission to bring them to Earth in order to analyze them accurately.
The Mars 2020 mission is part of NASA's Mars Exploration Program, which includes, in addition to Curiosity, the two Mars Odyssey and Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter probes currently orbiting the planet, and the MAVEN orbiter which arrived on Mars in month of September 2016 and will study its upper atmosphere. In May 2018, a lander called InSight was launched to give a first look into the planet's deep interior.