Oxygen production is possible on Mars, which means on the Moon and other planets. How?

How will we breathe on Mars?

A future NASA mission could take about five years. Scientists are planning

land astronauts on Mars in the 2030s. This requires a sufficient supply of oxygen and fuel.

The organization has created an experimental installation Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE). This system is under testing on the Mars Perseverance rover, which launched in July.

The device converts carbon dioxide, constituting96% of the Red Planet's atmosphere is oxygen. On Mars, oxygen makes up only 0.13% of the atmosphere, while Earth's atmosphere contains 21%. In fact, the system works like trees - it sucks in Martian air with a pump, then separates two oxygen atoms from each molecule of carbon dioxide (CO2).

Experts from the University of Washington have proposed another method that complements MOXIE. Their technology makes it possible to extract oxygen from salt lakes on Mars.

The experimental technique was proposed by professorVijay Ramani. It involves using a completely different resource. We are talking about salt water from lakes that lie beneath the surface of Mars. Most of the water that exists on Mars is ice - both at the poles and in the middle latitudes of the planet.

According to Ramani's technology, the device will take water and split it into hydrogen and oxygen. A related study by the professor and his colleagues was published in the journal PNAS.

The development team is currently testing a smallversion of MOXIE. This will help researchers learn how a range of environmental factors, including dust storms, winds and sand, and the temperature of carbon dioxide, can affect the craft. A full scale system will be slightly larger than a home cooker. Its weight will be about 1000 kg.

Is it also possible on the moon?

Presumably yes, because, as it turned out, the lunar soil contains a huge amount of oxygen. Research shows that about 45% of the weight of dust and stones is pure oxygen.

A team of scientists from Metalysis and the University of Glasgowproposes to recycle lunar soil, the side effect of which will be iron and other metal powders. It is reported that the extraction of their own oxygen will speed up the creation of a colony on the Moon, and will also significantly simplify the delivery of payloads to the colonists.

It is noted that the material of the lunar surface is almosthalf is oxygen. Researchers have demonstrated for the first time a suitable method for its isolation: they managed to achieve the yield of almost 100% of the element, and the remaining product was an alloy of metals, that is, also a valuable resource.

Produced oxygen can be mixed with other gases,to make it breathable. Oxygen can also be used as fuel, and the moon can be used as a staging ground for deep space exploration. After all, the resulting iron is easy to adapt for construction. These and many factors have interested ESA experts, thanks to which scientists will receive the necessary funding for the next 9 months.

The new method provides access to fast and cost-effectivethe production of oxygen necessary to support life on the moon. In addition, the metal obtained from the reaction can be used for on-site production.

Can you get oxygen on other planets?

In an article published in Nature Astronomy 12On February 2018, Mendillo, Associate Professor of Astronomy Paul Withers and PhD Pavel Dalba offer a look at the exoplanet's ionosphere - the thin upper layer of the atmosphere that is riddled with particles. Find oxygen ions in it - and you find life. At least life is in the form in which we know it.

Throughout human historycivilization, we never got to the point of considering the question of the habitability of the universe - until the last 15 years - when we were able to see the planets around other stars. And now we are at such a stage in solving the problem that we need to come up with ideas on how to detect life outside the Earth. It will be a great intellectual competition.

John Clark, Professor of Astronomy at Boston University, Director of the Center for Space Physics

Their work began when Mendillo and Witersreceived a grant from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to compare all planetary ionospheres in the solar system. (It is found on all planets except Mercury, which is so close to the Sun that its atmosphere is completely absent.)

At the same time, the team also worked with the missionNASA MAVEN is trying to understand how the molecules that made up the ionosphere of Mars escaped from this planet. Since the dawn of the space age, scientists have understood that planetary ionospheres are very different, and the research team has focused on why this was so, and why the Earth's ionosphere was so different from others.

While other planets fill theirsthe ionosphere of complex charged molecules arising from carbon dioxide or hydrogen, the Earth's ionosphere keeps its composition quite simple, mainly with the filling of space with oxygen. And this oxygen is a special type of oxygen - single atoms with a positive charge.

Most of the planets in our solar systemhave a little oxygen in their atmospheres, but the Earth has a lot of it, about 21%. This is due to the fact that so many organisms are busy converting light, water and carbon dioxide into sugar and oxygen - a process called photosynthesis, and it has been happening on Earth for the last 3.8 billion years.

  • Venus

Like Earth, Venus has a large iron core and a rocky silicate mantle, and its crust, by analogy with our planet, is basaltic.

However, there is no oxygen on Venus - 96%the atmosphere is made up of carbon dioxide, and sulfuric acid rains on the surface several times a day. It is unlikely that at least one organism known to science will live in such conditions for more than a few seconds, and technology - more than a few hours.

  • Jupiter

Europa is the sixth moon of Jupiter and one oflargest satellites in the solar system. The Jupiterian moon is of interest to scientists for the reason that it is one of the celestial bodies on which life can potentially exist. The surface of Europa is covered with a layer of ice several kilometers thick, under which there is a liquid water ocean about 160 kilometers deep. In order for large life forms to develop in the ocean, similar to those on Earth, oxygen must be dissolved in the water. But this element cannot penetrate the ice sheet.

Scientists have proposed a mechanism that explainshow large amounts of O2 can get under the ice. Oxygen is formed on Europa's surface when a stream of high-energy particles from space bombards ice, creating high-energy forms of oxygen that can react with many substances.

Scientists have suggested that oxygen-containingcompounds enter the ocean when the ice crust moves, which are due to the tidal effect of Jupiter. Ice fragments, on the surface of which active oxygen is formed, go into the depths.

  • Saturn

Dione is the fourth satellite of the gas giantSaturn and another celestial body that potentially contains oxygen. The Cassini space probe has detected traces of this gas in the object's air envelope. True, the presence of oxygen in this case is not at all connected with the presence of living organisms on Dione.

Already in the last century it was possible to establish thatDione, which has a diameter of 1,123.4 kilometers (that is, it is smaller than our Moon), consists of water ice with a significant admixture of rocks in the inner layers.

However, for a long time, scientists have beenare convinced that this satellite cannot have any atmosphere - it is too small to keep the gas shell around it by means of gravity. Nevertheless, not so long ago this idea of ​​the nature of Dione was refuted, and the data for such a refutation was also provided by "Cassini" - but not an astronomer, but an automatic probe.

Can oxygen be produced in space?

On the ISS, oxygen reserves are replenished byelectrolysis of water (its decomposition into hydrogen and oxygen). This is done on the ISS by the Electron system, which consumes 1 kg of water per person per day. Oxygen supplies are also replenished from time to time during cargo missions to the orbital station.

Scientists from Caltech decided to find within theirresearch a different method of oxygen production. Eventually, they came up with a reactor that removes the “C” (carbon) from the “CO2” (carbon dioxide) formula, leaving only oxygen. The researchers found that if carbon dioxide molecules were propelled and hit against inert surfaces such as gold foil, they could be split into molecular oxygen and atomic carbon.

Scientists say their reactor works according toparticle accelerator principle. First, the CO2 molecules in it are ionized and then accelerated by the electromagnetic field, after which they collide with the gold surface. In its current form, the plant has a very low efficiency: for every 100 CO2 molecules, it is capable of producing about one or two molecules of molecular oxygen.

However, the researchers point out that their reactor has proven that this oxygen production concept is indeed possible and may become scalable in the future.

In the future, the reactor can be used foroxygen production for astronauts who will fly to the moon, Mars and beyond. On Earth, such a scale-based installation could also be very useful, because it can reduce the concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere and convert them into oxygen, thereby helping to combat global climate change. However, scientists note that their installation is not yet ready for the practical phase.

Accordingly, the answer to this question is yes, but the technical research in this regard has not yet been completed.

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