The Perseverance rover may be parked at an overlook to capture any flights by the Ingenuity helicopter over the next two weeks, but it’s not wasting any of its time on Mars.
Recently, the ship has successfully converted some of the plentiful carbon dioxide on Mars into oxygen as a first test of its MOXIE instrument. The name MOXIE is short for Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment.
After warming up for about two hours, MOXIE produced 5.4 grams of oxygen. This is enough to sustain an astronaut for about 10 minutes.
This MOXIE device is about the size of a toaster, and it’s a technology demonstration installed on the rover. If this experiment is successful, it could assist with human exploration of Mars in the future.
The thin Martian atmosphere is 96% carbon dioxide, which isn’t much help to oxygen-breathing humans.
Something that can convert that carbon dioxide into oxygen efficiently could help in more ways than one. Bigger and better versions of something like MOXIE in the future could convert and store oxygen needed for rocket fuel, as well as supply life support systems with breathable air.
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