NASA’s Perseverance Mars Rover Extracts First Oxygen from Red Planet


Apr 21, 2021 RELEASE 21-044

Technicians at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory lower the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) instrument into the belly of the Perseverance rover.

Technicians at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory lower the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) instrument into the belly of the Perseverance rover.Credits: NASA/JPL-Caltech

The growing list of “firsts” for Perseverance, NASA’s newest six-wheeled robot on the Martian surface, includes converting some of the Red Planet’s thin, carbon dioxide-rich atmosphere into oxygen. A toaster-size, experimental instrument aboard Perseverance called the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) accomplished the task. The test took place April 20, the 60th Martian day, or sol, since the mission landed Feb. 18.

While the technology demonstration is just getting started, it could pave the way for science fiction to become science fact – isolating and storing oxygen on Mars to help power rockets that could lift astronauts off the planet’s surface. Such devices also might one day provide breathable air for astronauts themselves. MOXIE is an exploration technology investigation – as is the Mars Environmental Dynamics Analyzer (MEDA) weather station – and is sponsored by NASA’s Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD) and Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate.

“This is a critical first step at converting carbon dioxide to oxygen on Mars,” said Jim Reuter, associate administrator for STMD. “MOXIE has more work to do, but the results from this technology demonstration are full of promise as we move toward our goal of one day seeing humans on Mars. Oxygen isn’t just the stuff we breathe. Rocket propellant depends on oxygen, and future explorers will depend on producing propellant on Mars to make the trip home.”

For rockets or astronauts, oxygen is key, said MOXIE’s principal investigator, Michael Hecht of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Haystack Observatory.

After a 2-hour warmup period MOXIE began producing oxygen at a rate of 6 grams per hour.

After a 2-hour warmup period MOXIE began producing oxygen at a rate of 6 grams per hour. The was reduced two times during the run (labeled as “current sweeps”) in order to assess the status of the instrument. After an hour of operation the total oxygen produced was about 5.4 grams, enough to keep an astronaut healthy for about 10 minutes of normal activity.Credits: MIT Haystack Observatory

To burn its fuel, a rocket must have more oxygen by weight. Getting four astronauts off the Martian surface on a future mission would require approximately 15,000 pounds (7 metric tons) of rocket fuel and 55,000 pounds (25 metric tons) of oxygen. In contrast, astronauts living and working on Mars would require far less oxygen to breathe. “The astronauts who spend a year on the surface will maybe use one metric ton between them,” Hecht said.

Hauling 25 metric tons of oxygen from Earth to Mars would be an arduous task. Transporting a one-ton oxygen converter – a larger, more powerful descendant of MOXIE that could produce those 25 tons – would be far more economical and practical.

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.

The conversion process requires high levels of heat to reach a temperature of approximately 1,470 degrees Fahrenheit (800 Celsius). To accommodate this, the MOXIE unit is made with heat-tolerant materials. These include 3D-printed nickel alloy parts, which heat and cool the gases flowing through it, and a lightweight aerogel that helps hold in the heat. A thin gold coating on the outside of MOXIE reflects infrared heat, keeping it from radiating outward and potentially damaging other parts of Perseverance.

In this first operation, MOXIE’s oxygen production was quite modest – about 5 grams, equivalent to about 10 minutes worth of breathable oxygen for an astronaut. MOXIE is designed to generate up to 10 grams of oxygen per hour.

This technology demonstration was designed to ensure the instrument survived the launch from Earth, a nearly seven-month journey through deep space, and touchdown with Perseverance on Feb. 18. MOXIE is expected to extract oxygen at least nine more times over the course of a Martian year (nearly two years on Earth).

These oxygen-production runs will come in three phases. The first phase will check out and characterize the instrument’s function, while the second phase will run the instrument in varying atmospheric conditions, such as different times of day and seasons. In the third phase, Hecht said, “we’ll push the envelope” – trying new operating modes, or introducing “new wrinkles, such as a run where we compare operations at three or more different temperatures.”

Illustration of the MOXIE instrument, depicting the elements within the instrument.

Illustration of the MOXIE instrument, depicting the elements within the instrument.Credits: NASA/JPL

“MOXIE isn’t just the first instrument to produce oxygen on another world,” said Trudy Kortes, director of technology demonstrations within STMD. It’s the first technology of its kind that will help future missions “live off the land,” using elements of another world’s environment, also known as in-situ resource utilization.

“It’s taking regolith, the substance you find on the ground, and putting it through a processing plant, making it into a large structure, or taking carbon dioxide – the bulk of the atmosphere – and converting it into oxygen,” she said. “This process allows us to convert these abundant materials into useable things: propellant, breathable air, or, combined with hydrogen, water.”

More About Perseverance

A key objective of Perseverance’s mission on Mars is astrobiology, including the search for signs of ancient microbial life. The rover will characterize the planet’s geology and past climate, pave the way for human exploration of the Red Planet, and be the first mission to collect and cache Martian rock and regolith (broken rock and dust).

Subsequent NASA missions, in cooperation with ESA (European Space Agency), would send spacecraft to Mars to collect these sealed samples from the surface and return them to Earth for in-depth analysis.

The Mars 2020 Perseverance mission is part of NASA’s Moon to Mars exploration approach, which includes Artemis missions to the Moon that will help prepare for human exploration of the Red Planet.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, which is managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, California, built and manages operations of the Perseverance rover.

For more about Perseverance:



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Bryan A
April 22, 2021 10:06 am

1 unit … 1 hour … 10 minutes of O2…
Would take 6 units operating 24-7 to produce a single day supply and the byproduct is Carbon Monoxide. Now what to do with all that CO?
Now all they need to do is strip off the second O and have C be the leftover. Carbon Nanotubes for construction

Last edited 1 year ago by Bryan A
Reply to  Bryan A
April 22, 2021 10:55 am

the CO is vented harmlessly into Mars’ 96% CO2 atmosphere. The atmosphere is already toxic and very low pressure, so that tiny amount of CO is meaningless.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
April 22, 2021 5:45 pm

What do you think of the idea of sending some of the archea microorganisms along on the next mission? Some of those metabolize CO into CH4. The methane would then be a feed stock for more complex hydrocarbons to produce rocket fuel.

I can see the Martian poles being “mined” for the CO2 that is concentrated there every year by freezing.

Paul Penrose
Reply to  Bryan A
April 23, 2021 9:22 am

This is a tiny demonstration unit and says nothing about the ability or difficulty to scale it up to produce practical amounts of oxygen. But given how it works, I think the only real limiting constraints will be on energy resources.

dodgy geezer
April 22, 2021 10:28 am

Lots of oxygen in the regolith. It’s full of perchlorate.. ..

Reply to  dodgy geezer
April 22, 2021 11:16 am

Perchlorate makes a great solid rocket fuel oxidizer. Ammonium perchlorate was the oxidizer used in the Space Shuttle’s SRB. The NH4-perchlorate was mixed with aluminum powder to produce thrust once ignited.
But trying to synthesize a solid rocket motor using perchlorate oxidizer in austere conditions of Mars’ surface is difficult to imagine. Liberating the oxygen from the perchlorate to free oxygen would require a basic chemical reaction that would produce water that then could be electrolyzed to liberate the oxygen.

Steve Z
April 22, 2021 10:32 am

If astronauts on Mars would need 25 metric tons (megagrams) of oxygen to lift off, at 10 grams per hour, it would take Moxie about 2,500,000 hours (about 285 earth years) to generate all that oxygen.

Maybe a better idea would be to bring some fast-growing plants from Earth, install them under a transparent airtight dome, and water them, and let them generate oxygen from CO2, using a process that has worked on Earth for many years. There might be a problem finding enough water on Mars, and sunlight is weaker there than on Earth, but the plants would love the CO2-rich atmosphere.

Lurker Pete
Reply to  Steve Z
April 22, 2021 10:56 am

not many plants can tolerate 2000+ppm Co2, and the roots need oxygen.

Timo Soren
Reply to  Lurker Pete
April 22, 2021 11:10 am

Not quite the case, bulk plant gain is optimized near 1000 – 1500 ppm. In fact it appears that radanus sativus grows well in 3000ppm. Survive and reproduce at a wide range of Co2 is tolerate. Few plants die at 2000ppm, hence tolerate. I coul not find a single journal article saying 2000+ ppm killed a single species.

Lurker Pete
Reply to  Timo Soren
April 22, 2021 12:35 pm

OK I didn’t word it very well, it would have to be a specialized environment with the rootzone seperated from high Co2 atmosphere, +2000ppm the Co2 starts to limit the O2 in the rootzone, and interfear with soil pH and nutrient uptake, iirc it can also effect respiration. The Co2 enriched greenhouses I worked in had an alarm set at 1600ppm when fans would kick in.

here’s an extreme example

Reply to  Timo Soren
April 22, 2021 12:45 pm

0.3% CO2 (3000 ppm) is a long ways from 98% CO2.

Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
April 22, 2021 5:48 pm

I would think that less than 0.01 bar pressure would be a rather bigger problem for plants.

John Tillman
Reply to  Timo Soren
April 22, 2021 4:56 pm

Land plants evolved under about 4000 ppm, but the greenhouses of Mars would still have to cut the 960,000 ppm CO2 atmosphere down to a lower concentration.

Joseph Zorzin
Reply to  Lurker Pete
April 23, 2021 3:21 am

with some genetic engineering, they might like the high level of “carbon pollution”

Reply to  Steve Z
April 22, 2021 11:02 am

That thought crossed my mind, too, as I read about it. It just might be doable. As for the oxygen generator, they did say they would have a one ton unit ready later. Much larger than a toaster, I presume. That would be able to produce much more O2, but then Rome wasn’t built in a day. Interesting!

Reply to  Steve Z
April 22, 2021 11:23 am

Modern plants (those evolved in Earth’s ‘modern” atmosphere of ~21% O2) still need O2 for mitochondrial respiration. Plants have both chloroplasts and mitochondria. Mitochondrial respiration is an aerobic process. The plants have to use stored energy sugars and starches to grow. They use mitochondrial respiration to convert the stored sugars (from photosynthesis done in the chloroplasts) to make proteins, oils, and nucleic acids (RNA and DNA precursors) for growth. Put any plant in 96% CO2 (even at Earthly pressures) and it will quickly die even if watered and given sunlight. The oxygen content will be far too low to support respiration.

Last edited 1 year ago by joelobryan
Reply to  Joel O'Bryan
April 22, 2021 1:10 pm

Start with a greenhouse with an Earth atmosphere, then slowly feed in CO2 as it is used.

Unfortunately oxygen production requires another ingredient, water. And that’s hard to come by on Mars.

John Tillman
Reply to  JamesD
April 22, 2021 4:58 pm

There is lots of water on Mars, but it’s mostly in solid form, at least on or near the surface. Liquid water might exist deeper in the crust.

Reply to  Steve Z
April 22, 2021 11:24 am

Mars has bags and bags of water stored as ice. link

Given that the temperature on Mars is really really cold, the problem might be to keep all those plants in the greenhouse from freezing. Anyway, the astronauts will eventually have to grow plants to eat so why don’t they start from there and get the oxygen they need too?

Could they even kickstart a Martian economy without fossil fuels? Mars seems to have uranium. link Maybe the future of the Martian economy is nuclear. On the other hand, maybe there was a Martian civilization and they had a nuclear war as evidenced by surface material suggesting nuclear explosions. link It may be the nature of intelligent life to destroy itself. Fermi Paradox. If that were the case, or even a possibility, it should serve as a serious lesson to humanity.

Bryan A
Reply to  commieBob
April 22, 2021 11:59 am

Not sure Mars would have had sufficient habitable time to allow for the development of Intelligent Lifeforms. On Earth it took over 5 billion years for intelligence to evolve

Reply to  Bryan A
April 22, 2021 12:32 pm

I once wrote a sci fi story (rejected…) in which someone thought the dinosaurs had perished in a nuclear war. Of course 5 billion years – 67 million years is still about 5 billion years.

Reply to  Bryan A
April 22, 2021 12:33 pm

If the Martians took a bit less, say 4.9 billion years to develop an advanced society with nuclear arms, humanity would not have been able to observe the resulting conflagration.

Last edited 1 year ago by commieBob
Reply to  Bryan A
April 22, 2021 12:46 pm

I’m not sure that there is intelligent like on Earth.

Bryan A
Reply to  DonK31
April 22, 2021 2:44 pm

It hasn’t been around for 5 Billion years yet so there’s still time to hope

Reply to  Steve Z
April 22, 2021 11:29 am

Compress CO2 into liquid (should not be to difficult the average temperature on Mars is about – 80F (-60C), use solar panels to generate electricity to power CO2 compressors and electrolysis cells. Modifying the set up can be used for production of ethylene and ethanol which could be used as rocket propellant in low density atmosphere with lower escape velocity.

Last edited 1 year ago by Vuk
Bryan A
Reply to  Steve Z
April 22, 2021 12:05 pm

Or 285 units could produce sufficient fuel in just 1 year, well before any return trip could be undertaken

Reply to  Bryan A
April 22, 2021 12:34 pm

Agreed, although these units could be sent long before people ever arrived, producing extra, not to mention making sure nothing goes wrong.

Bryan A
Reply to  mcswelll
April 22, 2021 9:03 pm

If 6 units could produce an hours O2 supply in an hour, just build 6 units into a backpack and walk around outside all day long

Reply to  Steve Z
April 22, 2021 12:29 pm

Or make a bigger toaster.

Reply to  Steve Z
April 24, 2021 2:59 am

A system based on blue-green algae might be more practical – that worked on Earth, although it took eons. Still better would be a machine that could harvest CO2 and produce O2 and carbohydrates, much like a plant but without having to worry about keeping it alive.

April 22, 2021 10:58 am

Talking about matters ‘Space’

‘The Unicorn’ newfound black hole lies a mere 1,500 light-years from us and is just three times more massive than the sun.’

video narrative

Last edited 1 year ago by Vuk
April 22, 2021 11:24 am

So they “proved” high school chemistry works on Mars?

Reply to  D, Anderson
April 22, 2021 12:37 pm

and without being able to plug into the wall outlet, and at atmospheric pressure 1/1000 of Earth at sea level, and at temperatures well below zero, and in a dusty atmosphere with some weird perchlorate chemistry in the dirt and dust. Oh, and without a high school student watching over it.

John Tillman
Reply to  mcswelll
April 22, 2021 5:02 pm

Pressure 1/155 of Earth’s, not 1/1000.

Reply to  John Tillman
April 23, 2021 6:57 am

Oops, you’re right–thanks for the correction.

John Tillman
Reply to  mcswelll
April 23, 2021 8:22 am

You’re welcome. Ingenuity’s rotors would have to be a lot bigger for the little helicopter to fly in air 1/1000 of Earth’s atmospheric density.

Bruce Cobb
April 22, 2021 11:26 am

Moxie is also a carbonated beverage flavored with gentian root, which gives it a somewhat bitter quality. It’s an acquired taste. We like it.

J Mac
April 22, 2021 11:39 am

Excellent! The little lab scale oxygen demonstrator is performing as expected on Mars. Yes, we’re crawling at this point, but we’re learning.

First you crawl. Then you toddle your way to faster progress walking and eventually running. It’s the natural progression of skill development.

Last edited 1 year ago by J Mac
John Pickens
April 22, 2021 12:00 pm

This amazing feat would be next to impossible with anything other than a nuclear power reactor, which the Perserverance rover has.
Why can’t solar panels do this? Because they aren’t worth the weight to launch, propel to Mars, and land.

What does this tell you about Solar PV here on Earth?
It just isn’t worth a pile of warm spit.

Roger Taguchi
Reply to  John Pickens
April 22, 2021 12:33 pm

The Ingenuity helicopter is powered by solar PV.

Bryan A
Reply to  Roger Taguchi
April 22, 2021 2:51 pm

Also Spirit and Opportunity were powered by panels for 14 years though functional work ended during the 6 month winter (and dust storm events) due to a lack of adequate illumination

John Pickens
Reply to  Bryan A
April 22, 2021 4:27 pm

And the solar panels could just barely keep the electronics on Spirit and Opportunity from failure due to cold, until they finally couldn’t any longer.

The solar panels could not come anywhere near producing enough electrical power to electrolyze CO2 into O2.

And as far as nuclear reactors, all thermionic radioisotope generators ARE nuclear reactors, but not all nuclear reactors are thermionic.

The fact that RTG’s use nuclear decay heat instead of neutron induced reactor heat is immaterial. Both types of reactors use radioactive decay flux to create heat, which is harvested to produce electricity.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Pickens
Michael S. Kelly
Reply to  John Pickens
April 23, 2021 3:59 am

Spirit and Opportunity were expected to last 90 sols (Martian days). Spirit lasted 20 times that long, and Opportunity nearly 15 years. It’s a tribute to the design that allowed solar panels to function so long even with dust cover. However, you can’t bet human life on that. Nuclear, whether radioisotope thermal or nuclear fission, must be part of any human landing.

DARPA is working on a nuclear thermal propulsion system, which is probably misguided. But the reactor technology would be applicable to Mars surface operations.

Reply to  John Pickens
April 22, 2021 12:44 pm

Not a nuclear reactor, rather a radioisotope thermoelectric generator (RTG). The difference is explained here:

Many of the outer planet space probes (Pioneer, Voyager, New Horizons among others) also used RTGs, because sunlight is scare out there. Probes that fly nearer to Earth’s orbit, including virtually all satellites in orbit around the Earth, generally use solar panels. Mars is borderline for solar: half again as far away from the Sun as Earth, and therefore about half the average sunlight.

Rud Istvan
Reply to  John Pickens
April 22, 2021 12:45 pm

Actually, the rover has a solid state thermionic generator powered by the heat from radioactive decay of plutonium. Thermionics here on Earth are powered by combustion. Too expensive for anything except very special situations, since depend on 3/5 materials class semiconductors

April 22, 2021 12:41 pm

In a world going mad here on the good Earth, it is good to see that Perseverance furthers on Mars. I am all for robotic missions to explore the solar system.

Wouldn’t it be more applicable to make oxygen and hydrogen from traditional electrolysis from water? Mars has plenty of water, as does the Moon. I realize that takes a lot of electricity, but you wind up with more rocket fuel if you utilize the hydrogen with the oxygen in a traditional rocket for return to Martian orbit. Solar panels aren’t going to cut it on Mars for the basic reason of getting them there, and then they are even less productive than here on our planet. We are back to the basic question of how to generate a fair amount of electricity for the least effort. Nuclear would seem to be the only thing capable of generating that much electricity, which could power everything, in addition to manufacturing rocket fuel, both oxygen and hydrogen.

Utilizing GPHS-RTG radioisotope thermoelectric generators, which use heat from the decay of plutonium-238 (in the form of plutonium dioxide) to generate direct current electricity via thermoelectrics might make the best sense. This is already powering Perseverance, as it did Voyager 1& 2 as well as Cassini and New Horizons spacecraft. It is relatively low tech, and just a matter of scaling it up. Lots of waste heat for a long time as well.

April 22, 2021 12:45 pm

NASA rover Perseverance produces oxygen on Mars.

How long before somebody decides we should all drive vehicle like Perseverance ?

Gary Pearse
April 22, 2021 12:50 pm

“Rocket propellant depends on oxygen, and future explorers will depend on producing propellant on Mars to make the trip home.”

Unimaginative. Nuclear for generating oxygen from water or possibly silicates, sulphates (didnt they find gypsum) or, at least solid CO2, instead of from a lean atmosphere, and possibly even nuclear for propulsion itself (this is the likely choice). Don’t you need the hydrogen also? Have they done a radiometric mapping of the planet surface? Carbon monoxide will live forever in the Martian atmosphere.

This is the kind of thinking you get when a big part of your organization is preoccupied with “carbon capture ” or direct reduction from the earth’s atmosphere. Some clone will take this as proof of concept for converting terrestrial CO2 using solar pannels. Also, the anti-nuclear bent isn’t helpful.

April 22, 2021 1:05 pm

How much Oxygen could they produce from the rusty surface of Mars?

April 22, 2021 3:19 pm

When it comes to manned space flight, science fact is a lot more demanding than science fiction. The harsh realities, in my view, mean that man will never colonize Mars or any other planet. I know it sounds heretical to space flight enthusiasts, but there is no shame in admitting our limitations. Colonizing the moon might be viable, but it would be unproductive and a huge waste of resources .

Reply to  Dave
April 22, 2021 3:47 pm

Your opinion on this topic is noted. Perhaps enlighten us to the facts regarding the colonization of any planets, and why colonizing the moon would be unproductive and a waste of resources.

Reply to  chickenhawk
April 22, 2021 4:28 pm

The tremendous expense, for one. It seems that the greatest resource on the moon and mars is water ice for breathing and rocket fuel. The other planets and moons are too inhospitable and have no resources. But if there are no other economically exploitable resources on the moon or mars, why send humans there other than for limited scientific expeditions which wouldn’t be at the scale to justify large use of local resources. Such expeditions would be more productive if limited to scientists who didn’t have to worry about equipment to produce rocket fuel or breathing oxygen.

Some asteroids might have resources of interest. But how do you you return them or finished products made with them in space back to the surface of the earth in large quantities?

The other limit is energy. Beyond the moon and mars, solar energy is not viable and only marginally viable on mars for small energy requirements. Nuclear reactors would work but to do serious resource exploitation/colonization, reactors in the 10s of MW are required. These reactors will reject 1/2-2/3 of their thermal output. Much of this could be used for heating habitats, melting ice but not all.

Now waiting for someone to bring up He-3.

Reply to  Kevin
April 22, 2021 5:33 pm

Estimate the value of an offsite backup plan for humans. You stated the dearth of resources in the system…no so sure about that. I’ll look for some data on that.

Reply to  chickenhawk
April 22, 2021 7:01 pm

Pending some unforeseen revolutionary energy technology beyond nuclear fusion, these colonies will always be largely dependent on earth. So if earth goes, the colonies will go soon after. We couldn’t even get Biosphere 2 to work for two years and no one seems to be trying in the quarter century since.

Reply to  Kevin
April 23, 2021 4:04 am

Yep, totally inpossible to build a construct that humans can live in under difficult conditions, how dare General Electric Electric Boat Division claim they can do it. The gall.

Reply to  2hotel9
April 23, 2021 12:20 pm

Assuming you are referring to the USS Nautilus, both submarines and nuclear reactors existed at the time. Money and weight were not serious constraints.

Reply to  Kevin
April 24, 2021 4:09 am

My point is we are fully capable of building structures in which humans can live under the most adverse of conditions. To be clear, I don’t see colonizing planetary bodies as the primary focus we should be working toward, orbital habitats and manufacturing should be where we are focusing. And although solar is a comical waste of effort on the Earth’s surface, in orbit it is damned well worth the effort. Moon based operations would be very useful for acquiring metals and other materials.

Fact is humans are pissing away trillions of dollars on stupid, useless crap all the time, claiming getting off this planet is too expensive is just a non-starter.

Reply to  Dave
April 22, 2021 6:04 pm

I’m sure that there were quite a few who said the harsh realities of sea voyages across the North Atlantic made colonizing the East coast of North America an exercise in insanity. They probably felt quite smug when the Roanoke Colony failed miserably.

Reply to  writing observer
April 22, 2021 7:05 pm

They knew in advance that they had survivable climates, air, fresh water, fish and game, arable soil and exploitable resources that did not depend on advances in technology. The only unique hazard they faced were the natives. And many of the investors still did not earn a profit.

The analogy is ridiculous.

Reply to  writing observer
April 22, 2021 7:19 pm

My ancestors were part of such a failed venture in 1623. They gave up a fishing / salt producing operation on Cape Ann, then stayed with the Plymouth Colony, concluded the Pilgrims were religious wackjobs and settled in what is now Beverley MA.

Reply to  Dave
April 22, 2021 7:36 pm

The first o colonize the moon will have captured the high ground in any future military conflict on earth.

China is working on it NOW.

Laser or particle beam weapons will be effective for huge distances without the interference of an atmosphere making any moon base incredibly defensible.

Do you want China to get there first? I think they would, like their brethren the Democrats in “power” now in the US, use anything they have to achieve their goals.

oeman 50
Reply to  Drake
April 23, 2021 7:44 am

Ref: “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress,” by Robt. A. Heinlein.

Reply to  Drake
April 23, 2021 12:34 pm

Wouldn’t the laser/particle beam still have to traverse the earth’s atmosphere to hit targets on earth? How do the Chinese avoid hitting their own assets in earth orbit? And unless the particle beam was made up of neutrons, I think the earth’s magnetic field may have something to say about its effectiveness. How do you precisely aim a laser beam that gets incrementally refracted as it inters the earth’s atmosphere?

What happens when the target on earth is facing away from the moon at the desired time of the attack?

Reply to  Dave
April 23, 2021 4:02 am

You are right, crossing the ocean is unproductive and a huge waste of resources. Oh, thats right, human ingenuity overcame that. Silly humans, thinking they can do whatever they set their will to do.

April 23, 2021 4:07 am

A nice first step, I see the naysayers are out in force, as usual. Good thing the naysayers are ignored throughout human history, else we would still be grubbing in the dirt and dying at age 30.

Reply to  2hotel9
April 23, 2021 12:39 pm

The “naysayers” raise valid points that will have to be answered in advance by the dreamers or eventually by reality.

Reply to  Kevin
April 24, 2021 4:20 am

Naysayers are always happy to make other people sit in the mud and starve all the while they live in luxury and comfort, once they are forced to live like everyone else their tune rapidly changes. Same for when they see profits for themselves with little chance of getting their hands dirty and at same time keeping other people poor. Funny thing is many capitalists are not afraid to get their hands dirt and be uncomfortable and inconvenienced whilst showing everyone what narrow minded hypocrites naysayers are, they just see it as the cost of progress.

Reply to  2hotel9
April 25, 2021 6:24 pm

The people living in Mars colonies will certainly not be living in luxury and comfort. Especially after their oxygen extractor loses power.

Reply to  Kevin
April 27, 2021 6:07 am

You actually think leftarded environistas are going to go to space? Really? Thats rich.

April 23, 2021 6:31 am

A thin gold coating on the outside of MOXIE reflects infrared heat, keeping it from radiating outward

Someone needs to read up on the meaning of reflection and radiative emission. BTW infrared radiation is not “heat” either, it’s radiation.

Damned “media studies” students again, instead of scientists.

Last edited 1 year ago by Greg
oeman 50
April 23, 2021 7:50 am

I seems that Mars has a number of sources of combined oxygen, CO2, iron oxides, water, etc. BUT, you have to add the energy to those compounds to separate the O2. So it has to come from a nuclear reactor imported to Mars, solar panels made on Mars, some sort of as yet undiscovered heat source, etc. That energy requirement is the limiting factor to this scheme. Thermodynamics is a bitch, ain’t it?

John Tillman
Reply to  oeman 50
April 23, 2021 9:34 am

There’s another problem. Assume that enough O2 can be generated from CO2, water and other oxygen sources to get Martian air up to, let’s say, pressure at 10,000 feet on Earth, ie minimal breathable (10.1 psi v. 14.7 at MSL). Then how do you keep those precious, hard-won molecules from escaping to space?

An artificial magnetosphere is theoretically possible, but presently in the realm of science fiction, if not fantasy. Restarting Mars’ internal magnetosphere might not even be theoretically possible, so yet more fantastic.

BTW, generating that much O2 would require increasing the density of the atmosphere by about 106 times.

Then of course, to sustain plants, fungi, humans and other animals, you’re also going to need, at a minimum, nitrogen and phosphorus as well.

Last edited 1 year ago by John Tillman
John Tillman
Reply to  John Tillman
April 23, 2021 10:16 am

But then, I guess greenhouses would be possible.

Reply to  John Tillman
April 23, 2021 12:52 pm

I don’t think this technology was intended to be scaled up for terraforming mars. It could be used for maintaining required O2 for a small scale research base along the lines of Antarctic research. If used for rocket fuel oxidizer, it will also be needed to be liquified which will take more energy.

As I mentioned elsewhere, Biosphere 2 couldn’t be made to work continuously for two years under far more favorable circumstances.

John Tillman
Reply to  Kevin
April 23, 2021 4:35 pm

Definitely, the problems with human colonization of Mars are legion.

April 23, 2021 8:55 am

What needs to return from Mars? Machines can do everything that people can there, but better. And those machines are obsolete by the time they are launched so don’t need bringing back.

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