The hacker on NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover is considered a mission success after producing enough oxygen for a small dog to breathe for about 10 hours.
The Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, or MOXIE, is a microwave-sized device that takes unbreathable Martian air and turns it into oxygen that humans — and dogs — depend on.
The team behind the experimental tool recently revealed that ever since Percy landed on Mars, MOXIE has been running like a dream.
MOXIE has produced 122 grams of oxygen since 2021, producing approximately 12 grams of oxygen per hour.
And because NASA knows we love a good animal analogy, the space agency said that’s enough for a small dog to breathe for about 10 hours.
This may not seem like a lot, but it is more than double the initial goal NASA set for MOXIE.
Oxygen is also 98% purity or better.
“MOXIE’s impressive performance shows that it is possible to extract oxygen from the Martian atmosphere — oxygen that could help provide breathable air or rocket fuel for future astronauts,” said NASA Deputy Administrator Pam Milroy. “Developing technologies that allow us to utilize resources on the Moon and Mars is critical to building a long-term lunar presence, creating a robust lunar economy, and allowing us to support an initial human exploration campaign to Mars.”
MOXIE works through an electrochemical process, where carbon dioxide molecules are separated into oxygen and carbon monoxide molecules.
As these gases flow through the system, they are analyzed to check the purity and quantity of oxygen produced, according to NASA.
The achievement is exciting because when humans travel to Mars, they will be able to produce oxygen and fuel on the red planet instead of transporting all their resources with them.
Using materials from the Earth to survive is a technique called in situ resource utilization, or ISRU.
MOXIE principal investigator Michael Hecht of MIT said the tool inspired the ISRU community.
“It showed that NASA was willing to invest in this type of future technology. It was a pioneer that impacted the exciting space resources industry,” Hecht said.
This concept can be used to create a large-scale system with an oxygen generator such as MOXIE and a method for storing the oxygen produced.
NASA has shared audio of MOXIE’s air compressor operating on the Red Planet.
Listen to Pumping on Mars below.
On August 7, MOXIE generated oxygen for the 16th and final time on board before concluding operations.
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