“I have news from Mars,” Orak announced to Verum, Scorch, and Felix, “For the first time, NASA has successfully produced oxygen on Mars.”
“Oh my god, that’s a huge achievement!” Scorch was excited.
“Tell us everything,” Verum demanded.
Orak wasted no time to explain, “Mars’ atmosphere is made of carbon dioxide. It is also thinner than Earth’s atmosphere. Humans can’t breathe in thin air.
If astronauts were sent to the red planet, they would have to carry their own oxygen. It will also be required in rocket fuels to carry the astronauts back home.
According to NASA’s estimates, to transport four astronauts back to Earth would take 25 tonnes of oxygen!”
“That would be so expensive to carry,” Verum replied, “not to mention the limited capacity of rockets.”
“Yes,” Orak replied, “Scientists needed a solution to make Mars’ air breathable. So, they sent an experimental device onboard Perseverance to the red planet.
It is a toaster-size instrument known as the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment or MOXIE.”
“Carbon dioxide is made of one atom of carbon and two atoms of oxygen,” Orak replied.
“MOXIE takes in carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and heats it to 800°C. Due to the high temperature, oxygen atoms separate from carbon dioxide atoms, forming oxygen. The waste material created during the process – carbon monoxide, is released back into the atmosphere.
On April 20, 2021, MOXIE conducted its first test. It produced 5 grams of oxygen or 10 minutes of breathable air for an astronaut,” Orak said.
“However,” Orak added, “MOXIE can produce only 10 grams of oxygen per hour. Scientists plan to develop the technology to make it faster and more efficient.”
“MOXIE will run nine more experiments to test its oxygen-producing capacity in different Martian seasons and atmospheric changes,” Orak concluded.