Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

NASA Experiment Lays Groundwork For 'Living Off The Land' On Mars

Date:
March 26, 1999
Source:
National Aeronautics And Space Administration
Summary:
NASA engineers have succeeded in a realm often left to alchemists and magicians -- creating something valuable "out of thin air." In this case, the thin air was a simulated Martian atmosphere, and the valuable commodity was oxygen.

NASA engineers have succeeded in a realm often left to alchemists and magicians -- creating something valuable "out of thin air." In this case, the thin air was a simulated Martian atmosphere, and the valuable commodity was oxygen.

Related Articles


"The concept is to use the resources on Mars to reduce the amount of material that needs to accompany a human mission . . . to 'live off the land,' " said Principal Investigator David Kaplan of the Exploration Office at NASA's Johnson Space Center. "Producing oxygen using materials readily available on Mars would be an important step toward reducing the costs and risks of an eventual human mission to Mars."

This week's demonstration is an initial test of technology that will be aboard the Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander, scheduled to launch April 10, 2001, and land on Mars on January 22, 2002. Called the Mars In-Situ Propellant Production Precursor, the experiment will test the feasibility of using the thin Martian atmosphere to produce oxygen for breathing air and propellants. Propellants created on Mars could eventually be used to send samples and astronauts back to Earth.

"The oxygen production technology being tested this week is based on sound, straightforward chemistry," said Jerry Sanders of Johnson's Propulsion and Fluid Systems Branch.

The primary test involves an experimental device inside a Mars environment chamber that selectively absorbs carbon dioxide from a simulated Martian atmosphere - called "Mars mix" -- and converts it to oxygen. This technology also may be used to extract pure oxygen from Earth air for home, medical and military needs.

The atmosphere inside the experiment chamber simulates Martian temperatures and atmospheric pressures. The "Mars mix" is 95 percent carbon dioxide, thin (almost 150 times thinner than Earth's atmosphere) and cold (-105 degrees Fahrenheit, or -75 degrees Centigrade, like a typical Martian night).

The mix provides the feedstock for the chemical reaction. A wafer-thin, solid-oxide ceramic disk made of zirconia, about the size of a small cookie, is sandwiched between two platinum electrodes and heated to 1,380 degrees Fahrenheit (750 degrees Centigrade). When carbon dioxide is fed to this unit, the zirconia cell "cracks" the carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide and oxygen. Only the oxygen can penetrate through to the other side of the disk; the carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide gases are stopped in their tracks.

The Mars Surveyor 2001 Lander is expected to provide essential insights into how to conduct successful, cost-effective human missions to Mars. The lander's primary science goal is to explore the mineralogy of the landing site, near the Martian equator, by taking visible and infrared pictures of the surrounding terrain and deploying a rover similar to Mars Pathfinder's Sojourner. Other equipment will analyze the Martian soil and surface radiation.

The Mars In-Situ Propellant Production Precursor demonstration is part of Johnson's continuing effort to identify solutions to the challenges facing future human explorers of other worlds. The Johnson Space Center is NASA's lead center for the Human Exploration and Development of Space enterprise.

Mars Surveyor 2001 is part of the Mars Surveyor Program, a long-term program of Mars exploration managed by the Jet Propulsion Laboratory for NASA's Office of Space Science, Washington, D.C. The laboratory is a division of the California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, CA. For more information about the Mars Surveyor 2001 mission, visit:

http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/2001/


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by National Aeronautics And Space Administration. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

National Aeronautics And Space Administration. "NASA Experiment Lays Groundwork For 'Living Off The Land' On Mars." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 26 March 1999. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990326062751.htm>.
National Aeronautics And Space Administration. (1999, March 26). NASA Experiment Lays Groundwork For 'Living Off The Land' On Mars. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 29, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990326062751.htm
National Aeronautics And Space Administration. "NASA Experiment Lays Groundwork For 'Living Off The Land' On Mars." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/1999/03/990326062751.htm (accessed January 29, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Space & Time News

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Asteroid's Moon Spotted During Earth Flyby

Asteroid's Moon Spotted During Earth Flyby

Rumble (Jan. 27, 2015) Scientists working with NASA&apos;s Deep Space Network antenna at Goldstone, California discovered an unexpected moon while observing asteroid 2004 BL86 during its recent flyby past Earth. Credit to &apos;NASA JPL&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Water Fleas Prepare for Space Voyage

Reuters - Innovations Video Online (Jan. 26, 2015) Scientists are preparing a group of water fleas for a unique voyage into space. The aquatic crustaceans, known as Daphnia, can be used as a miniature model for biomedical research, and their reproductive and swimming behaviour will be tested for signs of stress while on board the International Space Station. Jim Drury went to meet the team. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Mars Rover Opportunity Celebrates 11-Year Anniversary

Mars Rover Opportunity Celebrates 11-Year Anniversary

Rumble (Jan. 26, 2015) Eleven years ago NASA&apos;s Opportunity rover touched down on Mars for what was only supposed to be a 90-day mission. Since then it has traveled 25.9 miles (41.7 kilometers), further than any other off-Earth surface vehicle has ever driven. Credit to &apos;NASA&apos;. Video provided by Rumble
Powered by NewsLook.com
NASA's On Course To Take Pluto's Best Photo Ever

NASA's On Course To Take Pluto's Best Photo Ever

Newsy (Jan. 25, 2015) NASA&apos;s New Horizons probe is en route to snap a picture of Pluto this summer, but making sure it doesn&apos;t miss its one chance to do so starts now. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Space & Time

Matter & Energy

Computers & Math

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins