About a month and a half ago, NASA’s Perseverance rover made landfall on Mars, bringing audio and video skimming across the planet’s surface. NASA sent the rover to Mars on a mission that ended in February this year to search for signs of life on the planet by collecting many different rock samples and broken rock and soil mixture called regolith. Mars is not the safest environment for human exploration. Its harsh atmosphere is a mix of molecular oxygen, carbon monoxide, dioxide argon, and molecular nitrogen.
Carrying several thousand pounds of oxygen for any mission on a rocket can be challenging. NASA created a box codenamed Moxie to take on the challenge. The Moxie box is almost no larger than a car battery. However, it allows explorers to traverse the planet’s surface for longer because Moxie would convert Mars’s environment into breathable air for the astronauts. The Moxie box weighs in total about 33 pounds and cost about $50 million to make.
The Moxie box works by siphoning carbon dioxide; then, theoretically, it would split molecules electrochemically into oxygen and carbon monoxide. The Moxie box would mix in a tremendous amount of oxygen with the carbon monoxide. Scientists have plans of making more extensive versions of the Moxie box. At its current size, it should be able to produce about 10 grams of oxygen per hour. The box consumes 300 Watts of power.
Once perfected, this box would be a game-changer for astronauts and planetary exploration. With the successful use of the box on board the Perseverance rover in February 2021, it is hoped that larger-scale devices can be launched possibly sometime in 2030 and beyond.
If you would like to read more, click here for an article by Popular Mechanics.