Underground Brine On Mars

Experts Believe Underground Brine On Mars At Some Locations Might Be A Good Resource Of Oxygen

Science

Humans might need to arrange some crucial resources if they are planning to go to Mars in order to survive and explore for a long time. They will also need to restock such resources for their journey back to the earth. As per the data, due to the flowing surface, water has long gone from Mars; however, the red planet is not out of raw ingredients. NASA has planned its Mars 2020 mission carrying an experiment, which might fulfill this goal. This experiment is called MOXIE, The Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment. This test is as smaller as a toaster. It aims to produce oxygen from CO2 in the atmosphere. However, there is a need for a much larger version to make liquid oxygen for rocket fuel. MOXIE is designed to make the amount of oxygen, which is enough for the breathing of an active person only. However, a team of scientists has made a device, which can tap a different resource to produce pure oxygen and hydrogen.

Experts have said that perchlorate brine, which is believed to exist on Mars at some locations, might be a good source of oxygen. The new device can very well generate oxygen from perchlorate brine, said the experts. It can split water in the brine and can make a pure form of oxygen and hydrogen. Experts have found that perchlorate (ClO4) salts are quite common on Mars. It has a likeness for water molecules. It as well as the ability to collect water vapor over time and turning it into brine with the help of a low freezing temperature. This device has been developed by experts from Washington University. The study of the device has been led by Dr. Pralay Gayen. Scientists have made an electrolysis device in Mars-like conditions to test whether it is possible to tap perchlorate brine. This electrolysis device has a standard platinum-carbon cathode and a special lead-ruthenium-oxygen anode. Experts have mixed a possible concentration of magnesium perchlorate brine and loaded the headspace in that container with a pure form of CO2 for creating a Mars-like condition. The whole setup has been kept at -36 degrees Celsius. When experts have powered it up, they have been able to collect pure oxygen on the anode side and pure hydrogen on the cathode side.

Experts have found that the device has done quite well. It has been able to produce 25 times more oxygen than MOXIE. MOXIE needs around 300 watts of power to operate and this new device can produce the same amount of oxygen at 12 watts of power. Experts have revealed the new device makes hydrogen as well, which can be used in a fuel cell to generate more electricity. The new device will be lighter in weight and smaller in size as compared to MOXIE. Experts have said that a device like this needs to undergo long term stress testing to determine that the performance of this device do not degrade over time. Experts have used a membrane to separate anode and cathode during the test to prevent carbon dioxide from malfunctioning. Other scientists as well have suggested thorough testing of this new device as if the survival of people on a different planet depends on this device, it cannot afford a single fault.

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