On July 30, a rocket with a Perseverance rover departed from Cape Canaveral to Mars. The rover will deliver a host of advanced equipment to the Red Planet, including high-resolution cameras and the first Martian helicopter.
Many of these tools are designed to investigate the possibility of human colonization of Mars. For example, Perseverance will deliver a Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) device to the planet’s surface that will try to extract oxygen from the local atmosphere.
Oxygen is a serious problem for space missions – it takes up a lot of space and it is unlikely that colonists will ever be able to deliver sufficient supplies to Mars. And that’s not to mention the fact that oxygen is a fuel oxidizer and is needed during the flight itself.
This is precisely the problem MOXIE aims to solve. This is a small robot that, like a tree, collects carbon dioxide, and then electrochemically separates its molecules into CO (carbon monoxide) and atomic oxygen, which then collects into breathable O2.
The purity of the oxygen obtained in this way is 99.6%. MOXIE releases both gases back into the atmosphere, future models will direct O2 into storage tanks. Carbon monoxide in this case does not pose a problem, since its volumes are extremely small, and part of it will subsequently combine with atmospheric oxygen, again turning into CO2.
MOXIE will generate oxygen and measure various parameters of this process throughout the Perseverance mission. And he will begin this task immediately after the rover lands on Mars on February 18, 2021 of the year.