Aside from its main mission of finding signs of ancient life on Mars, NASA‘s Perseverance rover has also been busy conducting a series of scientific experiments. According to NASA, the rover recently converted air from the planet’s atmosphere into breathable oxygen.
Using an instrument dubbed the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE), developed by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab, Perseverance was able to produce about five grams of oxygen. The instrument splits oxygen atoms from the carbon dioxide molecules in the air by heating the gas to approximately 1,470 degrees Fahrenheit, creating carbon monoxide in the process. The five grams of oxygen created can theoretically provide a single astronaut of breathable air for about 10 minutes. The successful creation of breathable oxygen on Mars is a major step for NASA’s plans to explore the Red Planet, as a way to produce air could make fully manned missions a possibility in the future.
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