The US rover Perseverance has extracted oxygen from the carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere of Mars, reports the US space agency NASA. According to the space agency, this is the first time such a thing has been successful on another planet.
The MOXIE device (Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment) generated enough oxygen in a few hours, according to NASA, to make an astronaut breathe for ten minutes. MOXIE works by separating oxygen atoms from carbon dioxide molecules, which are made up of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms. For the conversion process, carbon dioxide is heated to 800 degrees. The oxygen is then released and the remaining carbon monoxide is emitted into the atmosphere.
NASA’s Trudy Kortes spoke about the first technology that could help future missions “live off earth” to another planet.
The atmosphere of Mars contains about 95% carbon dioxide. This complicates manned missions because astronauts need oxygen. The inventor of MOXIE explained that it is much more convenient to move a larger version of the oxygen device to Mars than to transport 25 tons of oxygen in tanks.
Perseverance arrived on Mars earlier this year after a seven-month journey. NASA was also able to report another first earlier this week. It was then for the first time that a helicopter could fly to another planet. This plane, the Ingenuity, had traveled with the Mars rover.
After publication, additional information on the precise operation of the oxygen machine has been added thanks to a tip from the reader Con_Rector.