Scientists Find A New Way To Create Oxygen On Mars
Making Mars habitable for humans will unquestionably be difficult, but scientists are working on ways to make the move possible.
A study has now hypothesised a new approach that focuses on the existing ice on the planet.
Elon Musk has discussed glass domes being used to facilitate humans on Mars, and others have hoped that terraforming would be possible. Both of these ideas have issues, however, as glass domes would need a lot of oxygen and terraforming a planet is still largely in the realm of sci-fi.
Fortunately, scientists at Washington University in St. Louis have now found a way to add to NASA’s existing plans for the Mars Oxygen in Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE).
MOXIE is currently being tested on Mars and the system is attempting to convert the carbon dioxide that makes up 96% of the atmosphere into oxygen. The scientists at Washington University in St. Louis believe that they can aid this goal by splitting frozen brine into hydrogen and oxygen through electrolysis.
Vijay Ramani, leader of the study and professor at Washington University, explained the potential for the work:
The presence of the brine is fortuitous because it lowers freezing point of the water. You take the salty, brackish water and electrolyze that. Our process takes the water and splits it into hydrogen and oxygen.
However, while this technique may be effective, the study also warns of the assumptions that have been made:
There hasn’t been any substantive evidence of bulk brine deposits, and while there are likely some in frozen form I absolutely don’t expect to find them as liquids.
Ramani told CNN they expect a similar process with the existing ice on Mars would likely hold the key to making the planet hospitable. With that said, given the time required to confirm whether current theories would work, it may not be best to bank on living on the red planet any time soon.
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