NASA’s Perseverance rover on Mars has made oxygen from the planet’s carbon dioxide atmosphere. It is the second successful technology demonstration on the mission, which flew a mini-helicopter last Friday. The generation of oxygen was performed by a toaster-sized unit in the rover called Moxie – the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment.
It made 5 grams of the gas – equivalent to what an astronaut at Mars would need to breathe for roughly 10 minutes.
NASA is planning that future human missions would take scaled-up versions of Moxie with them to the Red Planet rather than try to carry all the oxygen needed to sustain them.
Mars’ atmosphere is dominated by carbon dioxide (CO₂) at a concentration of 96 per cent. The expectation is that it can produce up to 10 grams of O₂ per hour.