In a groundbreaking achievement, NASA’s Perseverance rover has made history by generating enough oxygen on Mars to sustain an astronaut for three hours, marking a significant step towards the possibility of human colonization on the Red Planet.
The milestone was achieved through the deployment of the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) device, a small but innovative technology onboard the rover.
Over a span of two years since its arrival on Mars in February 2021, MOXIE converted carbon dioxide, which comprises 95% of the planet’s atmosphere, into life-sustaining oxygen. To date, MOXIE has produced 4.3 ounces (122 grams) of oxygen, equivalent to what a small dog breathes in 10 hours.
NASA officials are optimistic about the implications of this achievement. Trudy Kortes, director of technology demonstrations at NASA Headquarters, highlighted the potential for future exploration missions, stating that humanity has come one step closer to a future in which astronauts ‘live off the land’ on the Red Planet.
Furthermore, the extracted oxygen isn’t only vital for breathing but also holds promise for manufacturing rocket fuel. Pamela Melroy, NASA’s deputy administrator, emphasized the significance of such technologies for supporting lunar and Martian missions.
Despite this remarkable progress, numerous challenges remain, including Mars’ extreme cold, low atmospheric pressure, radiation exposure, and the impact on bone density during the journey. Nevertheless, Perseverance continues its mission to search for signs of ancient life on Mars, accompanied by the Ingenuity helicopter, bringing humanity closer to unlocking the secrets of the Red Planet.