NASA has just dropped a bombshell of extraterrestrial proportions, folks! They’re shouting it from the Martian mountaintops – they’ve cooked up enough oxygen to keep a little canine buddy alive on Mars for a whopping 10 hours! Now, that’s a big ol’ leap toward our dreams of setting up shop on the Red Planet.
This cosmic feat was made possible thanks to the star of the show, NASA’s Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, or “MOXIE” for short. This 40-pound powerhouse, no bigger than your microwave, hitched a ride with the Perseverance rover during its February 2021 touchdown on Martian soil.
Hold onto your helmets because MOXIE has been on a cosmic grind for more than two years, churning out minuscule amounts of oxygen from the thin Martian air. NASA’s press release spilled the beans on this behind-the-scenes space magic.
This ingenious gizmo pulled off some electrochemical wizardry, yanking out one precious oxygen atom from each carbon dioxide molecule it slurped up from Mars’ atmosphere. That atmosphere’s like a recipe with 95% carbon dioxide, a pinch of nitrogen, a sprinkle of argon, and just a dash of oxygen for flavor.
But why, you ask? Well, it’s all part of the master plan to make sure our future spacefaring buddies can breathe easy and power up their rockets when they’re kickin’ it on the Red Planet.
Over its interstellar journey, MOXIE managed to whip up a delicious 122 grams of oxygen, roughly what a pint-sized pup would gulp down in 10 hours of Martian adventures. At its peak performance, MOXIE was belting out a cool 12 grams of oxygen every single hour – that’s twice what NASA initially set their sights on!
NASA’s Deputy Administrator, Pam Melroy, chimed in on this cosmic cooking show, saying, “MOXIE’s impressive performance shows that it is feasible to extract oxygen from Mars’ atmosphere – oxygen that could help supply breathable air or rocket propellant to future astronauts.”
So, there you have it, space cadets – NASA’s taking big leaps to turn Mars into our cosmic playground, one oxygen atom at a time! This is just the start of our epic journey to the stars.