Plasma Might Hasten The Dream Of Mars Colonization.

The charged gaseous form of matter known as plasma is present throughout the universe. Humanity is taking advantage of this by using it for anything from sustainable waste management to neon signs. Now, a method that uses Mars’ atmosphere and plasma to generate oxygen has been put forth by a global team of experts. Or, more precisely, extracting oxygen from the dwindling Martian atmosphere,The Dream Of Mars Colonization:

In order to produce oxygen gas as part of the research. The scientists created Mars-like conditions in a lab and fired plasma beams at the gaseous mixture. The research findings, which have been publish in the Journal of Applied Physics. Highlight the scalability and adaptability of plasma technology as well as how it can produce more oxygen while using less machinery overall.

Plasma

The most practical option for exploration trips to far-off worlds like Mars is currently In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU). Research shows building a floating base station around Mars’ satellites is the way to go forward. Even for initiatives as grandiose as mining asteroids. The main reason for this is that carrying tons of essential supplies like oxygen and rocket fuel on lengthy journeys is impractical. The Dream Of Mars Colonization.

However, the logistics problems can be resolve and the mission’s viability increases. If there are technologies that can use the native resources of Mars and transform them into useful components like breathing gas. According to the most recent research, plasma technology for producing oxygen on Mars will “certainly play a highly relevant part in future ISRU efforts.”

The Dream Of Mars Colonization:

Resource management on Mars at present

On the red planet, NASA has already installed an experimental technology that can turn carbon dioxide into oxygen. The device, which runs out of the Perseverance rover and is known as the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment (MOXIE), is about the size of a car battery. The MOXIE kit was able to effectively extract oxygen gas on Mars for the first time in April 2021.

For the purpose of converting carbon dioxide into water. Moxie uses a technology known as Solid Electrolysis Cells (SOEC). Which uses electricity to move between two electrodes at a temperature more than 1,000 K. However, it has a unique set of downsides. For instance, the electrode material can degrade chemically during the operation.

It would need to operate in a high-temperature. High-pressure environment with a carbon monoxide atmosphere in order to avoid this fate. All of that calls for additional equipment. Such as a compression system and thermal insulation system, which merely increases bulk and escalates power needs.

Only 10 grams of oxygen are intend to be produce by MOXIE every hour at the moment. Astronauts would require 25 metric tons of oxygen and an extra 7 metric tons of rocket fuel to launch off the surface of Mars, according to NASA. The size of MOXIE needs to be increase by roughly a factor of 100 in order to reach such figures. Because of this, it is crucial that engineers and scientists create smaller, more energy-efficient. Better-performing systems for producing oxygen on Mars. This is where plasma technology has the potential to be a game-changer.

The Dream Of Mars Colonization:

Why is plasma technology a perfect fit for Mars?

About 96% of the atmosphere of Mars contains carbon dioxide, which must be broke down in order to produce oxygen. A compact gas conversion device might be use to create breathing gas on-demand in addition to supplying this oxygen to base stations. This would eliminate the need for astronauts to carry heavy gas cylinders as they explore the Martian surface.

Furthermore, the carbon monoxide generated during the plasma-catalyzed breakdown of carbon dioxide may be combined with oxygen to produce the rocket fuel propellant. Carbon, which can then be used to create other organic compounds or find value in building materials, can be produced as a result of further decomposition.

The idea that nitrogen from the Martian atmosphere can be capture and use to create fertilizers and breathing gas by modifying the chemistry of the plasma arc appears promising. Another benefit is the atmosphere. Which is even more conducive to plasma ignition and associated processes on Mars than it is on Earth.

According to the group who conducted the most recent study, Mars’s pressure, temperature, and gas composition are more suitable for plasma-based resource harvesting. For instance, the martian atmosphere’s argon and nitrogen can speed up the plasma dissociation process. The power requirements are also considerably reduce.

The Dream Of Mars Colonization:

Technical benefits of plasma technology

The major problems are cargo volume, energy demand, ease of use. Efficiency when it comes to crucial equipment for lengthy journeys or fantasizing about crewed exploration on planets like Mars. On a technical level, introducing plasma has a few benefits.

For instance, after oxygen has been create in the plasma chamber. The gas itself can be harvest using the heat produced by the plasma arc. Above a certain temperature, which is already possible in the plasma arc chamber. The ionic conductivity of a membrane for collecting oxygen ions increases.

The lesson learn from this is that, with the advent of plasma technology, specialize pre-heating equipment is no longer require to raise the membrane’s temperature and improve oxygen pass-through. The plasma’s free electrons will give the transport of oxygen over the membrane an additional kinetic boost.

In the end, plasma-powered technology provides two significant benefits for such missions. By reducing the energy needed to manufacture oxygen and the quantity of machinery needed to produce the same amount of oxygen as the current system. It can improve the performance of synthesis.

The Dream Of Mars Colonization:

The challenging path ahead

The team’s preliminary calculations indicate that a 6 kilogram plasma reactor is capable of producing 14 grams of oxygen every hour. However, a 15 kilogram reactor. Such as the MOXIE system, is only capable of handling 5.5 grams of oxygen synthesis each hour. Overall, compared to a MOXIE-like system. A plasma-powered system can produce six times more oxygen per hour per kilogram of apparatus carried to Mars.


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