The Moxie Box – NASA’s Oxygen Box

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Courtesy of NASA

               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 and 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 explore the planet’s surface for longer because Moxie would convert Mars’s environment into breathable air for the astronauts. The Moxie box ways 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.

NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover

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NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover is making waves by sending its first hi-resolution images of Mars back to Earth. Perseverance is the fifth Mars Rover and the most technically advanced yet. For the first time in history, the Rover recorded the sound of Mars’s surface; 11 mile-per-hour winds could also be heard. Perseverance had been traveling since July 30 of last year and touched down on the planet’s surface on February 18, 2021. The current mission is scheduled to last for two years. Perseverance aims to study information about the geological processes that created the crust and surface of Mars and how it evolved over time.

Past findings have also indicated sources of water on the planet’s surface. As far as the planet’s environment goes, it has been found to have seasonal temperature changes, polar ice caps, past volcanic activity, found to be very dusty and cold. The idea of life on the planet has been explored in the past. In the last few days, a 360° panoramic view using high-resolution photos of Mars has been constructed and made available to the public. It shows the planet’s surface and the environment in detail never seen before.

Some of the challenges that the Rover faced were things like making sure the equipment could survive the extremely harsh atmosphere of the planet. In fact, at one point, the Rover’s systems went into safe mode shortly after launch. Despite this, the landing was a stunning success, and the ongoing mission continues to be very fruitful. 

What the future holds for Mars, mankind does not yet know. However, with technology on his side, we are very excited to find out just how bright that future could be. To see the panoramic photos in full, please click here.