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Measuring Oxygen Generation on Mars with MOXIE


It has been almost 20 months since NASA’s 2020 Perseverance Rover landed on Mars carrying the PyroScience FDO2 optical oxygen gas sensor as part of the Mars Oxygen In Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) unit which is the first demonstration of successful native resource harvesting and utilization on another planet.

This test-scale system is designed to produce oxygen by solid oxide electrolysis of carbon dioxide found in the Martian atmosphere and allows scientists and engineers to evaluate the implications for larger-scale oxygen production systems for future space missions. Since the beginning of this experiment, MOXIE has successfully completed seven oxygen production cycles, creating oxygen at a rate of 6g/hour which is comparable to a small tree.

FD02 on Mars
FDO2 Oxygen Sensor inside NASA’s 2020 Perseverance Mars Rover

Since transporting oxygen to other planets is a challenging task, in situ production will be a critical factor for creating a sustainable habitat for human exploration of space. Playing multiple roles here, oxygen is not only important for providing astronauts with breathable air, but it is also required as propellant to eventually send rockets back to Earth.

With any type of production, measuring its output for quantity and quality control is a significant component. That is where the PyroScience FDO2 oxygen sensor comes in providing robust and reliable long-term oxygen measurements inside MOXIE’s solid oxide electrolysis assembly.

We are thrilled that the FDO2 oxygen sensor was selected for this unique experiment and look forward to continuing to support future space exploration endeavors.

For more information about the ongoing MOXIE experiment, check out this recently published paper in the Science journal and the Vice’s Motherboard Tech blog here.

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