NASA’s Perseverance rover has successfully created oxygen on Mars from the planet’s carbon dioxide atmosphere.
An instrument of the size of a toaster inside the rover Moxie – the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment generated 5 grams of oxygen.
The oxygen generated is sufficient for an astronaut to breathe for about 10 minutes.
NASA scientists believe that it will be possible for human missions to take bigger versions of the oxygen generating instrument with them to Mars instead of transporting all the required oxygen from the Earth.
Oxygen also plays an important role in propelling a rocket.
Moxie separates the oxygen atoms from CO? molecules, which are made up of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms.
Carbon monoxide is the by-product, which escapes into the atmosphere of the red planet.
The NASA team currently operating Moxie expects that it will be able to produce 10 gms of oxygen per hour.
“Moxie is the first technology of its kind that will help future missions live off the land, using elements of another world’s environment, also known as in-situ resource utilization,” a report quoted director of technology demonstrations within NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate Trudy Kortes as saying.