Plasma technology could hold the key to creating a sustainable oxygen supply on Mars, a new study has found.
It suggests that Mars, with its 96 per cent carbon dioxide atmosphere, has nearly ideal conditions for creating oxygen from CO2 through a process known as decomposition.
Published today in the journal Plasma Sources Science and Technology, the research by the universities of Lisbon and Porto, and École Polytechnique in Paris, shows that the pressure and temperature ranges in the Martian atmosphere mean non-thermal (or non-equilibrium) plasma can be used to produce oxygen efficiently.
Lead author Dr Vasco Guerra, from the University of Lisbon, said: “Sending a manned mission to Mars is one of the next major steps in our exploration of space. Creating a breathable environment, however, is a substantial challenge.
“Plasma reforming of CO2 on Earth is a growing field of research, prompted by the problems of climate change and production of solar fuels. Low temperature plasmas are one of the best media for CO2 decomposition – the split-up of the molecule into oxygen and carbon monoxide – both by direct electron impact, and by transferring electron energy into vibrational excitation.”
Mars has excellent conditions for In-Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU) by plasma. As well as its CO2 atmosphere, the cold surrounding atmosphere (on average about 210 Kelvin) may induce a stronger vibrational effect than that achievable on Earth. The low atmospheric temperature also works to slow the reaction, giving additional time for the separation of molecules.
Dr Guerra said: “The low temperature plasma decomposition method offers a twofold solution for a manned mission to Mars. Not only would it provide a stable, reliable supply of oxygen, but as source of fuel as well, as carbon monoxide has been proposed as to be used as a propellant mixture in rocket vehicles.
“This ISRU approach could help significantly simplify the logistics of a mission to Mars. It would allow for increased self-sufficiency, reduce the risks to the crew, and reduce costs by requiring fewer vehicles to carry out the mission.”
The Latest on: Mars Mission
- NASA’s Curiosity Takes New Selfie After Setting Record On Marson March 22, 2020 at 8:18 pm
NASA’s Curiosity rover was able to set a new record during its Mars mission by being able to climb the steepest slope it has ever reached. After completing its record-setting accomplishment, the NASA ...
- NASA Fixes Probe On Mars By Hitting It With A Shovelon March 22, 2020 at 5:00 pm
Every wrencher knows that sometimes the only cure for a misbehaving machine is to just hit the damn thing. The finely tuned machines of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration are no ...
- Curiosity Mars rover takes a new selfie before record climbon March 21, 2020 at 11:01 am
Curiosity finally reached the top of the slope March 6 (the 2,696th Martian day, or sol, of the mission). It took three drives to scale the hill, the second of which tilted the rover 31 degrees—the ...
- NASA's Mars rover Perseverance still on track for July launch despite coronavirus outbreakon March 21, 2020 at 5:48 am
Space agency officials remain optimistic that the car-size Perseverance rover, the centerpiece of the Mars 2020 mission, will be ready to launch during a three-week window that opens on July 17. The ...
- NASA's Curiosity Mars Rover Takes a New Selfie Before Record Climbon March 20, 2020 at 1:10 pm
This selfie was taken by NASA's Curiosity Mars rover on Feb. 26, 2020 (the 2,687th Martian day, or sol, of the mission). The crumbling rock layer at the top of the image is "the Greenheugh Pediment," ...
- NASA’s InSight mission on Mars—first glimpses of the planet’s interior from seismologyon March 19, 2020 at 3:12 am
NASA’s InSight mission is the first lander to deploy a seismometer on a planetary body since more than 40 years. With a year of seismic data from Mars, new discoveries on Mars’ tectonics and interior ...
- Joint European-Russian Mars Mission Delayedon March 13, 2020 at 8:03 pm
A joint mission by Europe and Russia to send a rover to Mars has been postponed by two years, in part because of the coronavirus outbreak. The European Space Agency and Russia's Roscosmos announced ...
- Coronavirus delays next Mars mission until 2022on March 13, 2020 at 5:28 am
The European Space Agency announced that its next mission to Mars will be delayed until 2022 due in part to the coronavirus pandemic around the globe.
- ExoMars2020: how coronavirus played a part in postponement of Mars missionon March 13, 2020 at 3:59 am
Given restrictions on travel and movement of personnel, postponement of the launch became inevitable. It is somewhat ironic that only last week NASA announced that the name of its rover, to be ...
- Russia, Europe Postpone Joint Alien-Hunting Mars Mission ExoMarson March 12, 2020 at 8:28 pm
and Russia’s Roscosmos State Corporation announced that they have decided to postpone their joint mission to Mars. The officials made their decision after determining that the agencies need more time ...
via Google News and Bing News