Dec 8, 2020

Scientists invent Technology To Extract Oxygen And Fuel From Mars’ Salty Water In Huge Step Forward To Colonising Red Planet

Humankind’s quest to set up base on Mars has received a boost as scientists have now claimed to have discovered a way that can help extract oxygen and fuel from the salty water found on the red planet.

The water which is salty due to the Martian soil can't be used for drinking purposes. Even electrolysis, the usual method of using electricity to break it down into oxygen (to breathe) and hydrogen (for fuel) requires removing the salt – a cumbersome method that can be a costly endeavour in a harsh environment like Mars.

But now researchers at Washington University in St Louis have developed an electrolysis system that can directly separate oxygen and hydrogen from briny water – in a less complicated and expensive manner.  

They examined their system in a simulated Martian atmosphere where the temperature was about -36C, in addition to testing it under typical terrestrial conditions.  

“Our Martian brine electrolyser radically changes the logistical calculus of missions to Mars and beyond. This technology is equally useful on Earth where it opens up the oceans as a viable oxygen and fuel source,” said Vijay Ramani of Washington University.In the summer of 2008, NASA's Phoenix Mars Lander "touched and tasted" Martian water, vapors from melted ice dug up by the lander. Since then, the European Space Agency's Mars Express has discovered several underground ponds of water which remain in a liquid state thanks to the presence of magnesium perchlorate – salt.

For instance, for living on Mars and returning to Earth, astronauts would need to manufacture some of the necessities, including water and fuel and this research could be very useful for such a purpose. 

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