Mars Perseverance rover successfully inhaled carbon dioxide and exhaled oxygen

Originally published at: Mars Perseverance rover successfully inhaled carbon dioxide and exhaled oxygen | Boing Boing


NASA now own the first factory on another planet.


Mars’ atmosphere is 96% carbon dioxide. MOXIE works by separating oxygen atoms from carbon dioxide molecules, which are made up of one carbon atom and two oxygen atoms. A waste product, carbon monoxide, is emitted into the Martian atmosphere.

Kind of a bummer to have at the end there.


I’m breathing, Right Now, on Earth that is…


It is on brand for the United Stares to send a wheeled vehicle to another planet and have it release carbon monoxide.

Humor aside, it would be interesting if this means that Mars exploration suits could have a system like this to constantly provide oxygen with a back up tank(s) of O₂ and N₂. I wonder if this means that nitrogen or some other near inert or inert would be a limiting factor to human exploration of Mars.


Mars now has an oxygenator! Can the Ares missions be far behind? :stuck_out_tongue:


Does the Perseverance rover have a methane fart machine?


Of course, the Martian atmosphere already has trace amounts (0.0747%) of CO, which is constantly being produced by UV photolysis of CO2.

If there were no CO → CO2 conversion, all the CO2 in the Martian atmosphere would be converted to CO in about 3500 years.

But Mars has a built-in “CO scrubber”: UV photolysis also breaks water vapor into hydroxyl radicals and oxygen, and those, in turn, convert CO to CO2.

The process is efficient, leaving only trace amounts of not-yet-processed CO in the atmosphere, on balance.

Our CO emissions won’t make the slightest difference to Mars. :upside_down_face:


Perhaps I am misunderstanding, but why the N2? Just because our atmosphere happens to have high concentrations, doesn’t mean that it is necessary for respiration. Low pressure O2 can work just as well.

Wikipedia has a great article on the breathable options: Breathing gas - Wikipedia

1 Like

Earthlings: hold my beer


That’s true, but I’m not sure people can live indefinitely at such low pressure, and if their habitat was at (say) passenger-jet pressure, the oxygen would have to be cut with something, which couldn’t be CO2. You also need a certain amount of nitrogen in the food chain too – it doesn’t necessarily have to be in the air, but you don’t save any weight by shipping it as solid fertilizer.

1 Like

You’re assuming we have to ship it at all: Where is the nitrogen on Mars?

There are a lot of issues to overcome, before we consider long term habitation. Gravity, is probably one of the biggest. But even for a short term visit, shipping as little as possible is the way to go.

1 Like

Challenge accepted? We excel at maximum destabilization of any environment we come in contact with.

Next up they’ll put in the first paperclip fab!

1 Like

Call me when it farts, then I’ll be impressed.

Breathing pure oxygen actually damages your lungs. You can do it for a while, but you couldn’t build a habitat on that. Not least because of the safety issues. This is what caused the Apollo 1 disaster, after all (combined with a poorly designed door). They initially used pure O2 to save weight (lower pressure means thinner walls). Later Apollo missions cross-faded from mixed gas at high pressure to pure O2 at low pressure as altitude increases during launch to permit a thin spacecraft wall while still being safe on the ground. One of many very clever weight-saving solutions they came up with.


This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.