Moxie, the device on the Perseverance rover that can produce 100 minutes of breathable oxygen on Mars
Few know about it, but NASA’s Perseverance rover It has a device called Moxie that is acting as a tree, producing six grams of breathable oxygen per hour, which are equivalent to 100 minutes of air on the surface of Mars.
A study published by the journal Science recalls that this is an important step for Percy, as they call the rover, since the Martian surface is rich in carbon dioxide.
Moxie is a device the size of a briefcase, which for more than a year has proven on seven occasions and in different seasons that can perform the same work as a small treea revelation considering that the density of the atmosphere of the red planet varies more than on Earth.
To create oxygen, the machine draws the air through a filter that cleans it of contaminantsafter which it is pressurized and sent through the solid oxide electrolyser, which electrochemically splits the carbon dioxide-rich air into oxygen and carbon monoxide ions.
Oxygen ions are isolated and recombined to form breathable molecular oxygen (O2), the quantity and purity of which is measured by Moxie before it is released back into the air, along with carbon monoxide and other atmospheric gases.
Michael Hecht, lead author of the study, explained: “(Moxie) has also worked at various times of the day, except at dawn and dusk when the temperature changes substantially”.
Next plan: an improved version of Moxie
The researchers believe that NASA could send an improved version of Moxie to Mars before a human missionwhat could produce oxygen at a rate of hundreds of trees. As DW adds, this would allow enough oxygen to sustain the crew and fuel a rocket back to Earth.
The current version is small and was made to fit aboard the Perseverance. It is built to run for short periods, starting up and shutting down with each trip.
Engineers plan to expand its capacity and increase production, especially in the coming Martian spring, when atmospheric density and carbon dioxide levels are high.