NASA’s MOXIE Mars Oxygen Experiment is ending operations

On April 20, 2021, the MOXIE experiment launched on Mars extractor 5 grams of oxygen from the Martian atmosphere, demonstrating the potential future capacity for a stable human presence on the Red Planet, and in other atmospheres besides Earth, for that matter.

“By proving this technology in real-world conditions, we are one step closer to a future in which astronauts live beyond Earth on the Red Planet,” said Trudy Curtis, Space Technology Mission Technology Demonstration Manager. Directorate at NASA launch Announcing the result of the experiment.

Just as the Ingenuity helicopter was sent as a technology demonstration to demonstrate powered and controlled flight on other planets, MOXIE was sent to test how human technologies could be used on other planets to help our species survive beyond Earth.

MOXIE (short for Mars Oxygen In Situ Resource Utilization Experiment) stood for: In Situ Resource Utilization, or ISRUOr the simple but crucial use of local materials in space to make existence possible. From extracting water from lunar regolith to oxygen from Mars’ unbreathable atmosphere, ISRU is an enterprise A more logical way Of searching for extraterrestrial existence rather than pulling everything you need from our pale blue dot.

MOXIE arrived at Mars aboard the Perseverance rover in February 2021Three months later, he was able to extract oxygen for the first time, a feat he repeated 15 times in his operations. The experiment separates oxygen from Mars’ carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere using electrochemical processes. In total, Moxy produced 122 grams of oxygen on Mars, which is equivalent to what a small dog breathes in 10 hours, according to the same release.

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“MOXIE has clearly served as an inspiration to the ISRU community,” Michael Hecht, deputy project manager for the Event Horizon Telescope and principal investigator for MOXIE, said in the release. “It showed that NASA was willing to invest in this type of future technology. It was a pioneer that impacted the exciting space resources industry.”

MOXIE was just a demonstration of the technology, but it shows how ISRU can — and likely will — be used off-planet. New mission concepts offer new ways humans can improve environments scientific reseach And by other means, such as mining. the The next step is the moonthe focus of NASA’s Artemis missions.

There are no immediate plans for a second iteration of the oxygen production experiment, but it lays a great foundation for future technology demonstrations. Even if future experiments are named differently, no projects in space can be implemented without a little excitement.

More: Enhanced access to space means fascinating new science is on the horizon

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