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Life on Mars even closer as NASA creates oxygen from red planet's atmosphere

Life on Mars even closer as NASA creates oxygen from red planet's atmosphere

An instrument called 'Moxie', which is about the size of a lunchbox, has produced oxygen using the planet's resources.

Life on Mars for humans could very much be a possibility as NASA’s Moxie instrument has successfully created oxygen on the red planet.

The instrument the size of a lunch box, known as Mars Oxygen In Situ Resource Utilisation Experiment (or Moxie), has created one of crucial elements necessary for human life for the first time ever.

Moxie has elicited oxygen on the fourth planet from the Sun seven times since it first landed in February last year as part of NASA’s Perseverance rover mission.

Irina Dmitrienko / Alamy Stock Photo

Principal investigator of the MOXIE mission at MIT’s Haystack Observatory Michael Hecht, said via a press release that the project will inform future systems on a ‘larger scale’ to make a planet other than Earth habitable.

Professor of the practice in MIT’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics Jeffrey Hoffman said: “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.

“It’s historic in that sense.”

The study noted how the small-sized instrument could produce oxygen through various atmospheric conditions, including night and day. 

Science History Images / Alamy Stock Photo

However, Hecht said they could not carry out the mission during dusk or dawn as temperature changes drastically.

He added: “We do have an ace up our sleeve that will let us do that, and once we test that in the lab, we can reach that last milestone to show we can really run any time.”

Professor Hoffman also said: “The atmosphere of Mars is far more variable than Earth.

“The density of the air can vary by a factor of two through the year, and the temperature can vary by 100 degrees. One objective is to show we can run in all seasons.”

The longest astronauts could survive on Mars is currently 100 minutes, as researchers revealed they were able to carry 50 grams of oxygen.

And while the current version of Moxie is small enough to fit on the Perseverance rover, researchers disclosed that eventually, a full-scale oxygen factory would be needed to carry larger units of oxygen. Ideally, these units would run ‘continuously’.

They also noted that to sufficiently support humankind, ‘computers, spacesuits, and habitats’ would have to be brought over from Earth.

Bring over a few cafes too with some banging avo on toast and we should be sweet.

Featured Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech. Igor Filonenko / Alamy Stock Photo

Topics: News, Space, NASA, Technology