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NASA’s MOXIE Makes Oxygen for Rocket Fuel from CO2 on Mars

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mars_2020_roverIf NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover has not managed to impress you already, the upcoming Mars 2020 Rover will definitely make your head spin. Among the seven super cool new instruments that will be carried on-board to Mars, the engineers are sending the ultimate machine that converts carbon dioxide into oxygen– the MOXIE.

Short for Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, MOXIE, developed by engineers at MIT, is seen as the instrument that will provide unlimited amount of oxygen to be used as rocket fuel, and ultimately it will give a huge boost to Mars exploratory missions.

The makers, however, are still not entirely sure whether their device will behave as expected under the much different atmospheric and gravitational conditions on Mars. They hope that the design will produce oxygen at an efficient rate, however it will have to be tested first.

The technology is not one-of-a-kind, as such, the International Space Station already has one of these instruments that convert carbon dioxide to oxygen. However, if it all goes to plan, this will be the first time that anyone has ever tried to use such instrument on a different planet. The ultimate goal is to have a mean that can generate sufficient amount of rocket fuel so that the future missions can be made much more advanced and operate for much longer. In addition, it is also seen as a technology that can supply enough oxygen to create a suitable living environment, waiting for crews to arrive.

MOXIE is only one of the seven incredible devices that will find their way to Mars in 2020. Among these are the Mastcam-Z and SuperCam, which will determine Martian mineralogy and chemical composition, the Scanning Habitable Environments with Raman & Luminescence for Organics and Chemicals (SHERLOC), and the┬áRadar Imager for Mars’ Subsurface Experiment (RIMFAX), to help establishing subsurface geological structures. The total cost of all instruments is $130 million.

Image (c) NASA

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