MAR 29, 2020 5:39 AM PDT

NASA is Sending This Golden Box to Mars to Make Oxygen

WRITTEN BY: Anthony Bouchard

NASA’s Perseverance rover, formerly known as just the Mars 2020 rover, will do quite a bit more than merely drive around on Mars snapping photographs and drilling into the planet’s surface. It will also carry a unique experiment to the red planet dubbed the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, or MOXIE for short.

MOXIE is a golden box that will be safely tucked away inside the rover’s chassis, and it will attempt to convert minute amounts of Mars’ atmospheric carbon dioxide into pure, breathable oxygen. It will work by taking advantage of solid oxide electrolysis to rip an oxygen atom away from existing carbon dioxide molecules, resulting in carbon monoxide, oxygen, and other byproducts.

Mars’ atmosphere is approximately 95% carbon dioxide, so there’s plenty of gas available to be converted into oxygen. Unfortunately, MOXIE will only produce small amounts of oxygen – around six grams per hour – or just enough to keep a small dog alive. Additionally, MOXIE won’t be operational all the time, as Perseverance will need to conserve energy for other and more essential scientific operations.

If successful, MOXIE could prove once and for all that it’s possible to generate enough oxygen to support human life on Mars. This would be essential if we were ever to send astronauts to live on the red planet for long periods of time. That said, it will be interesting to see how MOXIE pans out and how its processes will impact future Martian science.

About the Author
  • Fascinated by scientific discoveries and media, Anthony found his way here at LabRoots, where he would be able to dabble in the two. Anthony is a technology junkie that has vast experience in computer systems and automobile mechanics, as opposite as those sound.
You May Also Like
DEC 30, 2019
Space & Astronomy
DEC 30, 2019
How SpaceX's Crew Dragon Will Operate, From Start to Finish
It’s no mystery by now that SpaceX is working hard to earn the right to ferry astronauts to the International Spac ...
MAR 01, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 01, 2020
Astronomers Say it Was the Biggest Explosion Detected Since the Big Bang
When you’re an astronomer, you come to grips with the fact that the job involves a lot of waiting and watching as ...
MAR 08, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 08, 2020
Mars 2020 Rover Will be Named 'Perseverance'
The Mars 2020 rover has been a popular topic of discussion over the past several years, but it has remained rather consp ...
MAR 08, 2020
Space & Astronomy
MAR 08, 2020
2020 Has a Lot of Martian Missions in Store
Space agencies typically send missions to Mars once every several years, depending on the need for scientific exploratio ...
APR 12, 2020
Space & Astronomy
APR 12, 2020
Three New Crew Members Arrive at the International Space Station
The International Space Station received three new crew members this past week following extensive pre-quarantine measur ...
APR 30, 2020
Earth & The Environment
APR 30, 2020
NASA's Laser Satellites Help Scientists Quantify Sea Ice Loss
Global climate change is melting Earth’s ice, and a recent study from NASA details how the polar ice sheets have c ...
Loading Comments...