NASA's Perseverance Rover Just Made Breathable Oxygen on Mars

'This is a critical first step at converting carbon dioxide to oxygen on Mars.'

NASA's Perseverance Rover is working overtime on Mars. Aside from trying to find ancient microbial life on the red planet, the rover is doing plenty of scientific experiments. NASA has just reported that the six-wheeled robot converted Mars' thin, carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere into oxygen.

The rover used an instrument called the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) to produce 5.4 grams of oxygen—enough for 10 minutes of use for an astronaut. The conversion already is an amazing run but it changes a lot of things for astronauts, as well as rockets.

"This is a critical first step at converting carbon dioxide to oxygen on Mars," said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for STMD. "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. Oxygen isn’t just the stuff we breathe. Rocket propellant depends on oxygen, and future explorers will depend on producing propellant on Mars to make the trip home."

With Mars' atmosphere being 96 percent carbon dioxide, MOXIE separated oxygen atoms and converted them by heating the gas to a temperature of 800 Celsius.

In even more exciting news, a new study has found that Mars has the right ingredients to support microbial life in its depths.

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Paolo Chua
Associate Style Editor
Paolo Chua is the Associate Style Editor at Esquire Philippines, where he writes about fashion and grooming. Before joining Esquire Philippines, he was a writer at Town & Country Philippines.
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