NASA plans to land A crew on the moon by 2024, And then further on Mars, Possibly in the 2030s. One day, we will have permanent crew in both worlds. Unlike initial short-stay visits, long-term bases will have to be as self-sufficient as possible.
A lot of research has gone into preparation In situ resource utilization (ISRU) that can help build and maintain it Lunar base. Now, ideas similar to Mars are catching up with a new study, Published in PNAS, Suggests a way to use salty (salty water) found on Mars to create breathable air and fuel.
“Staying away from the land” would be more important than Mars on the Moon, because Mars is far away – making transportation costs (and time) even higher.
A major resource issue is how to provide sufficient oxygen for the mares-base crew to breathe. Mars has only a thin atmosphere, whose surface is less than a hundredth of the Earth. Worse, it is 96% carbon dioxide with only 0.1% oxygen. Earth’s atmosphere is 21% oxygen.
The purpose of MOXIE is to demonstrate that oxygen can be made from carbon dioxide in the atmosphere of Mars, using electricity to divide it into a mixture of oxygen and carbon monoxide, a process called Electrolysis. If it works as expected, oxygen can be collected and used to give colonists breath or as an ingredient in fuel. Carbon monoxide will be unwanted, and the martyr will return to the atmosphere.
Oxygen from martian brine
However, a new method has emerged, which will consume 25 times less electricity to produce the same amount of oxygen. No matter whether you use solar cells or radioactive sources to generate your electricity, the available power is limited, so this is an important advantage.
In the new study, a team at the University of Washington in the US demonstrates how electronics can be used efficiently to produce oxygen and hydrogen simultaneously from brine. It turns out that when you start with a concentrated solution of magnesium perchlorate, it is relatively easy to divide the saltwater component into oxygen and hydrogen using electrolysis.
This may sound foreign, but magnesium perchlorate is what is seen on and around the surface of Mars, for example, when liquid droplets appear on NASA’s feet. Marvel The lander, which touched far north of Mars in 2008. Curiosity Rover has also found Evidence of calcium perchlorate brine The martyr south of the equator.
Percolate salts are good at extracting muddy water from the dry water of the atmosphere, so droplets fall on the feet of the Phoenix lander. They can reduce the freezing point of the liquid to C70 ° C, which prevents concentrated percolate brine from freezing even at the lower surface temperature of Mars. There are places where the presence of dark, moist ridges is considered Seasonal flow of brine on the surface.
If you are where brine is available, the new study argues, you can make as much oxygen as you want – provided you have unlimited brine and power. Success in the efficiency of this percolate brine electrolysis is due to the makeup of the oxygen-forming electrode. For this, various types of minerals were used in the study pyrochlore, Contains this example of an oxide of lead and ruthenium. In this case, pyrochlores include a wide range of technical applications, such as “electrocatalysts”, to make electrolysis faster and easier.
It remains to be seen whether the MOXIE-style electrolysis of martine carbon dioxide or pyrochlor-enabled electrolysis to produce oxygen on Mars proves to be the more practical way of producing oxygen on Mars. Hydrogen from brine electrolysis is a bonus you don’t get by electrolysis of carbon dioxide, and can be used as a rocket fuel as the study suggests. Actually, if you want to do this, you will need to use oxygen as a complimentary component of the fuel. But at least that gives you a choice: breathe oxygen or use it in the hydrogen-plus-oxygen fuel mixture.
Neither option will be available during the many months-long journey to and from Mars, for which the International Space Station today has to find a recycling solution. They will also be important on the surface of Mars.
There is definitely another way to replenish oxygen, which would be grow plants In Mars base. These can absorb the carbon dioxide emitted by the crew and release oxygen by photosynthesis. Crew members can also eat some plants, which will be a welcome source of fresh food.