Mars colonization This is another big challenge for humanity, and aside from some grandiloquent promises, it is hard at work to overcome obstacles and ensure that astronauts can set foot on the surface of the red planet. The most important is the ability to generate oxygen localbut this is a point where significant progress has also been made.
as assembled NewScientist, researchers from the University of Lisbon, Portugal, led by Vasco Guerra, claim that plasma can be used to generate oxygen on Mars. Let us take into account that plasma is the fourth aggregate state of matter and differs in that it is similar to a gas, but some of its particles are ionized; i.e. electrically charged.
Experts have proven that plasma can vibrate in such a way that the oxygen and carbon that make up carbon dioxide are separated.. By adding a filtration system, astronauts will be able to generate their own oxygen, which will be key to establishing bases and supporting the Mars colonization project.
Obviously, this is easier said than done. The aforementioned media outlets indicate that the Portuguese team led by Guerra hopes to build a prototype “in the coming years”. If they can show that the technology can work on the red planet, only there it can be tested in space flight.
Plasma could be the key to colonizing Mars, in addition to producing oxygen
In addition to the initial research involving the use of plasma to produce oxygen on Mars, there are potential secondary applications that will also be critical to future colonization plans.
Mike Heckt, a researcher at MIT, explained that plasma can be calibrated to vibrate at different molecular frequencies. This would separate molecules other than oxygen and carbon and could be used to produce nitrogen or nitric oxide. Plasma is more versatile for component production, expert says which can lead to products like fertilizers.
But if a method for producing oxygen using plasma can be developed for astronauts, why use it for other purposes? Because the red planet already has a tool for extracting oxygen, and, in fact, it is currently being used by the Perseverance rover. This is a small tool called couragecritical to the success of Mars colonization.
As we explained earlier, MOXIE is a toaster-sized instrument that is responsible for extracting oxygen from Martian carbon dioxide. To do this, it combines high temperatures and pressures to separate carbon and oxygen and filter the latter with a stabilized zirconium membrane.
In April 2021, during the first test, the Perseverance rover’s instrument was able to produce 5.4 grams of oxygen in just one hour. This will keep the astronaut alive for about 10 minutes.
Also, as explained by Hecht, who is involved in the project, replacing it with a plasma-based system does not guarantee that it will be more efficient. It’s because MOXIE is already operating near the theoretical limits of oxygen production.. However, this does not exclude its usefulness for creating additional resources to support human life on the red planet.
Source: Hiper Textual