Scientists have achieved a remarkable milestone by successfully producing oxygen on Mars, using the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE) carried by NASA’s Perseverance rover in 2021. This achievement has far exceeded the expectations of scientists and holds great promise for future plans of human settlement on another planet.
The Perseverance rover’s primary mission was to search for signs of life on Mars. However, the outcomes of this oxygen generation experiment have added substantial momentum to the concept of establishing a human presence on the red planet.
Over the course of more than two years, the MOXIE instrument generated oxygen, not only demonstrating the production of a life-sustaining gas but also revealing the potential for producing rocket fuel on Mars. This discovery could significantly reduce the logistical challenges associated with transporting essential resources from Earth.
Despite this groundbreaking success, there remains a considerable amount of logistical work to be completed before Mars colonization becomes a reality. To this end, scientists at New York University Abu Dhabi are diligently analyzing a detailed mosaic map of Mars, meticulously crafted using images captured by the UAE’s Hope spacecraft, which has been orbiting Mars since 2021.
Dimitra Atri, the head of the Mars Research Group at the university, commented, “It might sound far-fetched now, but in the future, visiting and even inhabiting Mars could become a commonplace endeavor.”
As humanity’s efforts to explore beyond Earth intensify, scientists are actively seeking ways to prepare for future missions to Mars. In June, a simulated Mars habitat mission was initiated, with scientists living in such conditions for an entire year. This simulation is a vital component of NASA’s preparations for its first crewed mission to the Martian surface, anticipated to occur in the late 2030s.
Known as CHAPEA Mission 1 (Crew Health and Performance Exploration Analogue), this is the first of three simulated Mars missions aimed at evaluating human health and performance during prolonged isolation and confinement. Participants will reside and work in a replica Mars habitat at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre, conducting scientific experiments and activities, including crop cultivation.
The participants will inhabit a 1700-square-foot facility with private bedrooms, shared bathroom facilities, and communal areas. Throughout their 12-month stay, their health will be continuously monitored to gain insights into how a real crew might handle the challenges of an extended Mars mission.
To add a touch of realism, communication with the outside world will involve delays of up to 20 minutes due to the vast distance between Earth and Mars. The participants’ daily routines will include scientific research, habitat maintenance, crop cultivation, and simulated “Marswalks” on a terrain designed to resemble the Martian surface.
Should any participant find the conditions too demanding during their year-long stay, they will have the option to leave the facility, with a backup member ready to take their place.