Scientists have proposed a new way to extract oxygen on Mars on a large scale

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If extreme temperatures and exposure to cosmic radiation don’t kill Mars, the Martian air will. A group of researchers from the University of Lisbon proposed a method to solve the latter problem, using a plasma system to split carbon dioxide into carbon and oxygen. The study was published in the journal American Institute of Physics.

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One of the biggest obstacles to populating worlds beyond Earth is the use of resources necessary for life that are not there. Scientists propose to use non-thermal plasma, an electrically charged gas whose electron discharge can be directed to break the bond between carbon and oxygen atoms in a carbon dioxide molecule. Under laboratory conditions, a team of researchers has demonstrated the ability to cool plasma to Martian temperatures.

The lead author of the study, Vasco Guerra, believes that natural conditions on Mars are almost ideal for using resources in situ. In particular, the composition of the atmosphere, pressure and ambient temperature play in favor of the plasma process. Oxygen has been created on the surface of Mars before. Last year, NASA conducted the MOXIE experiment aboard the Perseverance rover, during which a small amount (about 5 grams) of oxygen was extracted from the red planet’s atmosphere. But this was only a test, and now we can focus on scaling this process.

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Splitting carbon dioxide into carbon and oxygen using plasma is still new technology, so it will be some time before people can use it on Mars. But this is already a step towards an extraterrestrial future.

Source: Trash Box

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