The Perseverance rover for the first time received oxygen from the atmosphere of Mars, which is 96% carbon dioxide.
According to NASA, the test took place on April 20. Oxygen was produced thanks to the experimental instrument Moxie, such devices may one day provide astronauts with breathable air.
Moxie is short for Mars Oxygen In-situ Resource Utilization Experiment. The experimental setup generates oxygen from carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere through an electrolysis reaction.
The installation, after two hours of preparation, began to produce oxygen at a rate of 6 grams per hour. After the first experiment, they managed to produce 5.4 grams of oxygen: this would be enough for breathing for 10 minutes.
This is an important first step in converting carbon dioxide to oxygen on Mars. MOXIE has a lot of work to do, but the results of this technology demonstration are promising as we get closer to our goal of seeing humans on Mars one day. Oxygen is not only what we breathe. Rocket fuel depends on oxygen, and future explorers will depend on fuel production on Mars to make the voyage home.
Jim Reiter, STMD Administrator Assistant
According to Hecht, astronauts will need one metric ton of oxygen for a year on Mars, but to take off a rocket with four astronauts on board from the surface of the Red Planet will require 25 tons of oxygen (55,000 feet) and 7 tons of rocket fuel (15,000 feet).
The Mars 2020 mission with the Perseverance rover launched from Earth in July last year, in February the rover successfully landed on the Red Planet.