Perseverance rover’s MOXIE oxygen-generator successfully created 5 grams of life-essential gas.
When America’s latest Mars mission landed in February, I noted the rover Perseverance came with two important units: The Ingenuity helicopter and the MOXIE oxygen generation system.
During my recent vacation, both projects had very successful tests. To begin with, Ingenuity has already flown several successful missions on the Red Planet.
NASA’s “high-risk, high-reward” Ingenuity helicopter is pouring on the rewards. It completed its fourth and most ambitious test flight across Mars on Friday. “Success,” NASA JPL tweeted, saying Ingenuity went father and faster than ever before.
…NASA said the plucky chopper already “has met or surpassed all of its technical objectives.” That gave the helicopter team license to try the more daring fourth flight to push its capabilities in the thin atmosphere of Mars.
Officials from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) indicated that the tests worked so well, the scientists would now be moving from a demonstration to an operational phase.
This means the chopper will support Nasa’s Perseverance Rover, helping with its hunt for signs of life.
The new phase will last for another 30 Martian days – or Sols – but the team said it was hopeful the operational role could be extended further.
“The technical performance has been fantastic and it is exceeding all our expectations,” said MiMi Aung, Ingenuity’s project manager.
“I can’t tell you how excited we are about this new phase.”
The aerial journey continues!🚁
The #MarsHelicopter will soon embark on a new operations demonstration phase. It’ll shift its focus from proving flight is possible on Mars to demonstrating flight operations that future aerial craft could utilize. https://t.co/wH9OHZvIjv pic.twitter.com/Is50qZWhhk
— NASA JPL (@NASAJPL) April 30, 2021
NASA revealed even more good news: The Perseverance’s MOXIE unit converted carbon dioxide into oxygen during its test run.
A toaster-sized instrument called MOXIE – short for Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment – made the feat possible. Since Mars’ atmosphere is 96% carbon dioxide, MOXIE works by separating oxygen atoms from carbon dioxide molecules.
“This is a critical first step at converting carbon dioxide to oxygen on Mars,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate. “MOXIE has more work to do, but the results from this technology demonstration are full of promise as we move toward our goal of one day seeing humans on Mars.”
In its first test on the Red Planet, MOXIE produced about 5 grams of oxygen, the equivalent of 10 minutes’ worth of breathable oxygen for an astronaut. MOXIE can generate up to 10 grams of oxygen per hour. MOXIE is expected to extract oxygen at least nine more times over the course of a Martian year – nearly two years on Earth.
Aboard NASA’s Perseverance rover, MOXIE creates oxygen on Mars: Thanks to an MIT-designed instrument, a NASA mission has produced oxygen on another planet for the first time. https://t.co/TkxkeLpmiz pic.twitter.com/j5wOKjcN7S
— Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) (@MIT) April 28, 2021
Congratulations to NASA and the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for these significant achievements! The news is truly out-of-this-world and is a ray of sunshine in what has been a long cycle of dreadful news.DONATE
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