In a remarkable development for space exploration, NASA’s MOXIE—aka Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment—has successfully converted Martian air (which is predominately carbon dioxide) into oxygen. For now, it generates enough gas to sustain a small dog but the hope is to provide enough for humans and aid in the creation of rocket fuel. The machine is situated within the Perseverance rover and shaped like a toaster, breathing in Mars’ incredibly thin, challenging air and separating its molecules into necessary parts. “We have to be able to live off the land,” says NASA scientist Jennifer Heldmann. “This is the first time that we’ve been able to test and demonstrate the technology to do that.” It’s also not the only experiment underway; researchers are investigating making oxygen factories using plasma while others are looking into using the planet’s ice deposits. The experiments are a promising leap forward for understanding deep space. Learn more about it at The Atlantic.
Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/The Atlantic