For humans to colonize Mars in the future, space agencies must figure out how to create enough oxygen on the planet. The good news is that NASA is already working towards doing so with its Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE). A recent study published this week in the Journal of Science Advances, by scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology proves that NASA’s MOXIE can generate enough oxygen from the carbon dioxide that makes up 95 percent of Mars’ atmosphere.
The MOXIE device arrived on Mars in February 2021, as part of NASA’s Perseverance Rover Mission. This device enabled us to convert resources from another planet into oxygen that will benefit humanity during the crewed mission to the red planet. MOXIE was built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory and MIT, to create enough oxygen on Mars.
The scientists that developed this device designed it to create enough oxygen that can match the equivalent oxygen of a small tree on Earth. The good news is that the device meets the mission requirement and generates the required amount of oxygen both day and night during several multiple Martian seasons. This instrument was built to have the same size as a lunch box, and it has proven that humanity has become technologically advanced to generate breathable oxygen on Mars.
Researchers are suggesting that the bigger size of the Moxie can even produce continuous oxygen that can match the rate of several hundred trees to prepare for human exploration on the planet. Jeffrey Hoffman, a former NASA astronaut, professor of aerospace engineering at MIT, and a deputy principal investigator of the MOXIE mission shared his opinion about the recent experiment.
“It’s what explorers have done since time immemorial, Find out what resources are available where you’re going to and find out how to use them,” Hoffman stated. From his point of view, you will realize that the MOXIE instrument is playing a significant role in generating enough oxygen for human exploration of Mars.
How close are we to sending Humans to Mars?
Space Agencies are already working toward sending humans to Mars. However, we are still faced with numerous challenges such as the impact of the 7 months’ mission duration on the astronauts. But as NASA is working on the progress of its Artemis missions, the space agency will surely figure out how to send humans to Mars before 2040. China is working on sending humans to Mars by 2033. The CNSA has successfully sent the Zhurong rover to explore Mars ahead of their preparation.
Elon Musk, the CEO of SpaceX founded his commercial aerospace agency to send humans to Mars. Musk is hoping to accomplish this goal by 2029 with his Superheavy Starships. Scientist like Hoffman reveals that the supply of oxygen to these astronauts on Mars will actually be the most important stuff any space agency could provide for humans in the future.
Keep in mind that the first Martian astronauts will have to set up temporal habitats with the supply of oxygen on the red planet to survive in the harsh martian environment. They will also need it in their sophisticated spacesuit tanks to explore the Martian surface outside their habitats.
With the generation of oxygen on Mars using the MOXIE equipment, space agencies are assured that they will produce abundant oxygen for human explorers in the future. Oxygen is also an important propellant to power rockets and ensures a safe return to the Mars surface.
This implies that space agencies could generate enough oxygen that will sustain astronauts on Mars and propellant to power their spaceships during the return trip from Mars. Since the oxygen is generated from Mars’ 95 percent carbon dioxide, we will never run out of oxygen on the red planet.
Despite finding out how to generate enough oxygen on Mars, space agencies will still face several other complications, especially in protecting astronauts from high levels of cosmic radiation during extended trips to Mars. However, since we succeeded in sending humans to the moon in the 1960s, we will confidently talk the bold step and send humans to Mars before 2040. What do you think about this newly discovered scientific research about how to generate enough oxygen on Mars?