Oxygen out of thin Martian air

26 April 2021 | Technology

STEVE GORMAN / REUTERS

MARS

NASA has logged another extra-terrestrial first on its latest mission to Mars: converting carbon dioxide from the Martian atmosphere into pure, breathable oxygen, the U.S. space agency said on Wednesday.

The unprecedented extraction of oxygen, literally out of thin air on Mars, was achieved Tuesday by an experimental device aboard Perseverance, a six-wheeled science rover that landed on the Red Planet Feb. 18 after a seven-month journey from Earth. read more

In its first activation, the toaster-sized instrument dubbed MOXIE, short for Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, produced about 5 grams of oxygen, equivalent to roughly 10 minutes' worth of breathing for an astronaut, NASA said.

Although the initial output was modest, the feat marked the first experimental extraction of a natural resources from the environment of another planet for direct use by humans.

"MOXIE isn't just the first instrument to produce oxygen on another world," Trudy Kortes, director of technology demonstrations within NASA's Space Technology Mission Directorate, said in a statement. She called it the first technology of its kind to help future missions "live off the land" of another planet.

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.

But 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.

The volumes required for launching rockets into space from Mars are particularly daunting.

According to NASA, getting four astronauts off the Martian surface would take about 15,000 pounds (7 metric tons) of rocket fuel, combined with 55,000 pounds (25 metric tons) of oxygen.

Transporting a one-ton oxygen-conversion machine to Mars is more practical than trying to haul 25 tons of oxygen in tanks from Earth, MOXIE principal investigator Michael Hecht, of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, said in NASA's news release.

Astronauts living and working on Mars would require perhaps one metric ton of oxygen between them to last an entire year, Hecht said.

MOXIE is designed to generate up to 10 grams per hour as a proof of concept, and scientists plan to run the machine at least another nine times over the next two years under different conditions and speeds, NASA said.

The first oxygen conversion run came a day after NASA achieved the historic first controlled powered flight of an aircraft on another planet with a successful takeoff and landing of a miniature robot helicopter on Mars.

Like MOXIE, the twin-rotor chopper dubbed Ingenuity hitched a ride to Mars with Perseverance, whose primary mission is to search for fossilized traces of ancient microbes that may have flourished on Mars billions of years ago.

Similar News

 

Tegnologie verbind Duitse, San-kinders

2 weeks ago - 09 November 2021 | Technology

Tanja BauseInisiatief in Februarie 2020 beginDie internet verbind al sowat twee jaar 'n skool in Mangetti Dune in Namibië met een in Keulen in Duitsland.Die...

The Techdude – Your hub for cyber-security

4 weeks ago - 29 October 2021 | Technology

Rivaldo KavangaThe Techdude is a leading cyber-security company in Namibia that aims to provide unique, tailor-made and enhanced services. The company aims to become the...

Calls already intercepted - MICT

1 month - 27 October 2021 | Technology

JEMIMA BEUKES WINDHOEKGovernment has confirmed that telephone calls are already being intercepted within the confines of the Namibia Central Intelligence Service...

Access to information bill to criminalise data concealment

1 month - 27 October 2021 | Technology

ESTER KAMATI WINDHOEKThe existing draft of the access to information bill states that...

MTC can block infrastructure sharing

1 month - 22 October 2021 | Technology

OGONE TLHAGE WINDHOEKSouth African telecommunications giant MTN will be allowed to use MTC’s infrastructure to set up its mobile network, the Communications...

African Digitization is here

1 month - 20 October 2021 | Technology

Meltwater, the world’s leading media intelligence provider, delves into social media and online newsdata to share key trends and insights of our “new normal” in...

The Robot School: Future-proofing the youth

1 month - 20 October 2021 | Technology

Today’s children do not have an idea of what the future holds. Yes, I sound I an old fogey when I say that, but just...

PEBL: Building an advanced African culture

1 month - 20 October 2021 | Technology

Yochanaan CoetzeeWakanda. A fictional Afro-futuristic country where rich resources - both human and natural - coupled with inward investment and a do-it-for-themselves attitude made for...

Govt’s phone spying edges closer

1 month - 20 October 2021 | Technology

MATHIAS HAUFIKU and JEMIMA BEUKES WINDHOEKGovernment is pushing ahead with plans to get a...

We should produce our own medicine - Itah Kandjii-Murangi

1 month - 20 October 2021 | Technology

ESTER KAMATI WINDHOEKThe Covid-19 outbreak has exposed Namibia’s unpreparedness in mitigating natural and man-made...

Latest News

'Kapana' records more international wins...

11 hours ago | Art and Entertainment

‘Kapana’, one of the Ombetja Yehinga Organisation (OYO)’s films, recently won Best Feature Film at the African Diaspora Cinema Festival in Florence (Italy) and Best...

Working hard to make things...

1 day - 26 November 2021 | Business

Johann van Rooyen Having been in the information and communications technology (ICT) business for longer than I remember, I’ve seen it all. Laptops filled with...

Telecom, CRAN reaches agreement...

1 day - 26 November 2021 | Economics

STAFF REPORTERThe Communications Regulatory Authority of Namibia (CRAN) and Telecom Namibia Limited reached a settlement agreement, closing a longstanding dispute on the legality of regulatory...

Investment trends in a decarbonised...

1 day - 26 November 2021 | Economics

PHILLEPUS UUSIKUEnvironmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) issues are material in determining the long run fundamentals of a business and bring about a different approach...

‘Unreliable’ Gustavo lied under oath...

1 day - 26 November 2021 | Justice

Staff Reporter WINDHOEKArguments in the bail application of Fishrot accused Ricardo Gustavo were finalised yesterday, with the State arguing that the Namgomar...

80% of Namibians unvaccinated as...

1 day - 26 November 2021 | Health

Henriette Lamprecht WINDHOEKNamibia is always concerned about the presence of viruses, in whatever form...

Good communicators often undervalued

1 day - 26 November 2021 | Business

Iréne-Mari van der WaltAfter starting his law degree before pursuing a career in broadcasting, Gernot De Klerk would eventually end up at Nedbank Namibia. He...

Grabbing life by the beans...

1 day - 26 November 2021 | Business

Desiree Gases Kalahari Coffee Cooperative was started in 2017 in Windhoek by Brian Wheeler. “We have a hand in every aspect of our coffee...

An excellent aid at GIPF

1 day - 26 November 2021 | Events

Wetumwene Shikage PULL QUOTE: “I know our departmental core objectives thoroughly and assist everyone else within our department to achieve their goals.”As an...

Load More