Discovery of ‘plasma’ could allow humans to live on Mars

A new discovery in plasma could help humans survive tuesdayAccording to the scientists who did it.

Scientists hope to create a system that supports life, as well as the chemicals needed to process fuels, produce building materials, and fertilize plants.

Many space agencies and experts hope to send humans to live on Mars in the coming years. But the planet is hostile: it lacks the oxygen humans need or the fuel for the machines and equipment they need to survive.

Engineers hope to overcome that with technology that produces enough oxygen and other materials for the years humans are expected to spend on the planet. If these problems cannot be solved, humanity will never survive on the red planet.

The Pot It is already working on the so-called Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, which is trying to develop resources on Mars. The new discovery complements that approach and may provide an efficient way to produce the required molecules.

As engineers attempt to produce the oxygen necessary for human life on Mars, they run into problems. But a new discovery might help.

“First, the breakdown of carbon dioxide molecules to extract oxygen. It’s a very difficult molecule to break,” explains Vasco Guevara of the University of Lisbon, author of the new paper. We are studying these two steps in detail to solve both challenges simultaneously. This is where plasmas can help.

Plasma is the fourth natural state of matter. It contains free charged particles such as ions and electrons that help produce oxygen.

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“When the electrons hit the carbon dioxide molecule like bullets, they can break it directly or transfer vibrational energy,” Guevara explains. “A large amount of this energy can be channeled into the decomposition of carbon dioxide. Together with our colleagues in France and the Netherlands, we are experimentally demonstrating the validity of these theories. Additionally, the heat generated in the plasma is also beneficial for the separation of oxygen.”

The same system could help break down carbon dioxide molecules to create green fuels and recycle chemicals that could help tackle climate change in the future, the scientists suggest. land.

The new research is described in a paper titled “Plasmas for Space Resource Use on Mars: Fuels, Life Support and Agriculture.” [“Plasmas para la utilización de recursos in situ en Marte: combustibles, soporte vital y agricultura”]Released today Journal of Applied Physics.

Misty Tate

"Freelance twitter advocate. Hardcore food nerd. Avid writer. Infuriatingly humble problem solver."

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