Although Perseverance’s main mission is to find traces of life on Mars in the past and prepare for future samples sent back from Mars, it also carries two experiments that may have a profound impact on future Mars exploration.Among them, the wit helicopter completed its maiden flight three days ago, making it the first time in human history to fly in the atmosphere outside the earth.The second experiment “MOXIE” has also been activated earlier, Confirming the feasibility of producing oxygen directly from Martian atmosphere.
MOXIE (Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment) is a square box about 24 x 24 x 30cm. Its main function is to electrolyze carbon dioxide in the Mars atmosphere into carbon monoxide and oxygen at a high temperature of 800 degrees Celsius. In the first experiment, MOXIE took two hours to heat up, and then produced 5.7g of oxygen during one hour of operation. This amount sounds extremely small, but it is enough for an astronaut to take 10 minutes. The maximum production capacity of MOXIE is designed to be 10g per hour. The entire experiment will be divided into three phases. The first phase currently in progress is to confirm that it is feasible to produce oxygen on Mars and to understand the characteristics of the MOXIE instrument itself; the second phase is Under various Martian environments (day, night, and different seasons) to see if it has an impact on the output; the third stage is to push MOXIE to its limit, to understand the difference in electrolysis preparation efficiency under different temperatures or electricity, total Will run at least 9 times.
The oxygen produced by MOXIE will not be used for any special purpose (directly into the Martian atmosphere), but in the future, machines with similar technologies can produce oxygen for astronauts on Mars, and even rocket fuel for returning to Earth. Required. This means that the spacecraft heading to Mars can bring a lot less oxygen and more experimental equipment and supplies.