I am a part of the MIT team developing the MOXIE (Mars OXygen In situ resource utilization Experiment) payload that will be a passenger on the Mars 2020 rover. The goal of the experiment is to develop and demonstrate technology required to manufacture oxygen from the carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere. This technology will enable the human exploration on Mars by creating oxygen needed to fuel the rockets to return astronauts to Earth. Without such technology, a manned mission to Mars may be economically infeasible, unless the explorers plan on never returning home.
*Note: This is an unofficial page on the MOXIE project. The information here is a collection of what is publically available from various sources. Get the latest updates from the official MOXIE page HERE!
The instruments and their location on the Mars 2020 Rover. Moxie is front and center on the image. It will ride on the front right side of the rover. Image credit: NASA
The experiment will be using a Solid Oxide Electrolyzer (SOXE) to split the carbon dioxide into oxygen and carbon monoxide. The oxygen produced will be stored for a period of time and analyzed for purity. Design challenges include, CO2 acquisition and pressurization, electrolyzing CO2, thermal issues, power consumption, guarding against failure, and creating a system that can survive a violent launch into outer space and an even more perilous entry through the Martian atmosphere.
A rendering of MOXIE and the planned components. Image credit: NASA
I will keep you updated here on paper publications and conference proceedings related to the project and on my work. Stay tuned!
Meyen, F. E., Hecht, M. H., Hoffman, J. A., & MOXIE Team. (2016). "Thermodynamic model of Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE)." Acta Astronautica, 129, 82-87.
Rapp, D., Hoffman, J. A., Meyen, F., & Hecht, M. H. (2015). The Mars oxygen ISRU experiment (MOXIE) on the Mars 2020 rover. In Space forum.
Future and past MOXIE outreach events. Ask us a question in person.
Past Outreach Events: Tufts University Robotics Seminar. November 18, 2015 Cambridge Science Festival. April 16, 2016 MIT Humans to Mars Discussion Panel. April 23, 2016 MOXIE Parade, June 9, 2016 NASA Mars Day with #NASASocial. August 18, 2016