Science Instrument of Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover

MOXIE of the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover – part 3

The Perseverance Mars Rover‘s MOXIE runs the oxygen-making experiments autonomously and there are two challenges it is facing.

The first challenge is from the harsh Martian environment. The temperature can fluctuate for over 65 Celsius or 150 Fahrenheit during day and night, and it is yet to find out how the Perseverance Mars Rover‘s MOXIE will react to this abrupt temperature change. Moreover, in every Winter, around 30% of the Martian atmosphere vanishes and the temperature is so low that carbon dioxide solidifies and drops to the Martian surface. Ideally, the Perseverance Mars Rover‘s MOXIE should be able to operate at all times without stopping since it is designed to produce oxygen for human survival. Therefore, the record for how the Perseverance Mars Rover‘s MOXIE will respond to Mars’ harsh environmental condition will be extremely valuable data for MOXIE’s developers and researchers, so that the future MOXIE can be designed to work smoothly no matter the environmental changes. The Perseverance Mars Rover‘s MOXIE is planned to run 10 times totally during the mission under as many different conditions as possible. Our 1:2 Mars Rover Replica may or may not replicate the MOXIE instrument. If we do replicate it, it will not be able to make oxygen, and will not produce that much heat. But we may design it so that it will make the motor running sound effects.

If you are interested in our 1:2 Mars Rover Replic, you may check [1:2 Perseverance Mars Rover Replica Design and Building Diary].

The second challenge the Perseverance Mars Rover‘s MOXIE instrument faces is the byproduct generated. Theoretically, the carbon dioxide will be split into oxygen and carbon monoxide. However, scientists are still researching how to properly run the Perseverance Mars Rover‘s MOXIE instrument. If operating it too gently, the carbon dioxide will just go through the instrument and not produce enough oxygen so the oxygen conversion rate will be very low. But if operating it too heavily, not only will you get carbon monoxide, but also there will be some single carbon atoms. For now, the unwanted solid carbon is cleaned manually to avoid it from blocking the normal operation.

In the future, if humans can set foot on Mars, a much larger version of the Perseverance Mars Rover‘s MOXIE will need to make around 30,000 kg, or 66,000 lbs of oxygen to support a trip home from Mars to Earth. If the Perseverance Mars Rover‘s MOXIE is successful, this means it will save 4 to 5 trips from Earth to Mars for transferring that much liquid oxygen.