How to produce oxygen and water on the Moon and Mars

It goes on the Resource Prospector NASA mission that aims to build rovers and equipment for use in situ space assets and produce directly ( first on the Moon and then on Mars) water and oxygen for astronauts and fuel for spaceships.

oxygen and water

The test of a prototype called ROXYGEN, in 2008, for the extraction of oxygen from the soil.

Credit: NASA

In not too distant future, astronauts traveling on a mission into deep space will be able to make a quick stop on the moon, drinking a glass of pure water and do the full moon fuel, always the moon.

Today we know that our satellite hosts on its surface, in different areas , a layer of water created by the solar wind , as well as molecular hydrogen formed from ice cold water and magma below the surface. And then silver, sulfur, carbon dioxide, calcium, magnesium and mercury. Why not take advantage of all these resources? For example, building a rover that can go in search of the right substances in the ground, and that it can extract and process.

Once the men arrive on Mars,  this planet may be helpful to have some oxygen to use for their stay. Then why not build a device capable of using carbon dioxide of the atmosphere of the planet, dust and other particles and filter it using the gas for the chemical transformation in oxygen?

The use of space resources in situ (“in- situ resource utilization,” MWC ) is in NASA’s plans for years, in a mission dubbed Resource Prospector . The first prototypes of lunar rover capable of extracting and processing materials have been tested in 2008. For these projects, the agency has already spent nearly $ 20 million, but is expected to spend about a quarter of a billion dollars. As for Mars, we are still in the preliminary stages of design tools for MWC, but the planning of every possible human mission to the red planet depends precisely on the skills that we can develop by using local resources to produce the propellant for the launch of return the spacecraft to Earth.

After several tests that will still be needed on planet Earth, the first test in space ISRU is scheduled for 2018, the year in which NASA would launch a moon rover capable of traveling a few miles to track down (and work with) hydrogen, water vapor and other volatile substances of our satellite . A second experiment ISRU could be aboard NASA’s next Mars rover, which is planned for launch in 2020.

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