NASA’s Perseverance Rover has been making oxygen on Mars

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Technicians reducing MOXIE into the Perseverance Rover in 2019. | Supply: NASA/JPL

NASA launched the outcomes of its Perseverance Rover’s first seven oxygen era runs on Mars. The runs all befell through the rover’s first 12 months on the pink planet, from February 2021 to the tip of 2021, and have been carried out utilizing the robotic’s Mars Oxygen In-Situ Useful resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE)

Developed with the Massachusetts Institute of Expertise (MIT), MOXIE’s job is to soak up carbon dioxide and produce oxygen. The machine is concerning the measurement of a automotive battery, however NASA imagines a future model of the machine can be about 100 occasions bigger. 

Carbon dioxide makes up about 95% of the Martian environment, giving Perseverance loads to work with when making oxygen. Throughout its first seven runs, MOXIE created about 6 grams of oxygen per hour. In a more moderen run, MOXIE’s eleventh up to now, the crew was capable of get that charge as much as about 10.5 grams an hour, about half the quantity a human would want to outlive. 

The crew was capable of obtain this increased manufacturing charge due to the situations on Mars at present. The planet is in the course of its winter, when chilly nights and comparatively excessive atmospheric pressures create the best air density of the 12 months. The extra carbon dioxide within the air, the extra oxygen MOXIE can produce. 

MOXIE’s essential goal, nonetheless, isn’t to assist people breathe on Mars. As an alternative, NASA needs to make use of MOXIE’s know-how to make sufficient propellant to carry a human crew of about 4 to 6 astronauts off the floor of the planet and into orbit. To do that, the machine might want to make 2-3 kg of oxygen an hour.

One in every of MOXIE’s essential limitations proper now’s its energy provide. Creating kilograms of oxygen each hour would require round 25 kilowatts of energy, and Perseverance solely produces about 100 watts for MOXIE to make use of. Solely 10% of that energy goes in direction of creating oxygen, the remainder is used to run the compressor that takes in air, electronics for the machine and extra. 

The crew’s analysis was revealed in Science Advances earlier this week.

Different Perseverance milestones

Perseverance’s essential mission on Mars is to gather rock samples that can finally be returned to Earth. The rover cored its first rock pattern in September 2021, and up to now it has collected 12 rock samples that can hopefully give scientists perception into whether or not there was historic life on the planet. 

The rover has already began scouting for good spots for the Mars Pattern Return (MSR) Marketing campaign to land. NASA plans to launch its Earth Return Orbiter in fall 2027 and its Pattern Retrieval Lander in summer season 2028. The lander is anticipated to make it to the floor of Mars in 2030. If all goes nicely, the samples ought to return to Earth in 2033. 

You’ll be able to work together with a 3D rendering of the Perseverance Rover by clicking and dragging to show the rover or zooming in to have a look at particular components under. 

The Perseverance Rover received a 2022 RBR50 Robotics Innovation award for its achievement of coring its first rock from our sister publication Robotics Enterprise Assessment. 

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