For years humans wondered if there was water on Mars, now we know that there is, in fact, water on Mars, but it is either frozen or salted beyond human use.
Then we thought that if humans could ever live on Mars, and if yes, how would we survive on an infertile planet?
Now, with decades of research, we are finally at a point where we can actually think about living on the red planet. But it would require some form of livelihood to be there.
Agriculture, fuel, even air for breathing, etc. Everything cannot be done on the red planet. That’s why scientists at Washington University in St. Louis have come up with a solution: Turn inaccessible water on Mars into fuel and oxygen.
They have designed an electrical system to separate their constituent molecules from saline water; Oxygen and Hydrogen. They are absolutely certain that their use on Earth can survive in Martian environments with temperatures as low as -33 degrees Fahrenheit.
NASA previously launched its own Mars Oxygen in-situ resource utilization experiment with the 2020 Mars Rover in July. However, the creators of this new brine electrolyzer claim that it is 25 times more productive with its oxygen input than NASA’s equipment.
The study’s lead author, Vijay Ramani, said, “Our Martine brine electrolyzer has transformed the mission’s logistic calculus to Mars and beyond.”
He said the technology is not limited to space exploration, but has applications close to home where saline water can be turned into a viable fuel and oxygen source. In fact, it was not even built with the focus of Mars water, but they simply wanted to turn saline into fuel and oxygen.
The device has two parts. One side splits the water molecule to form a hydroxyl ion (OH) which then splits further. Technology is not new at all. People have been sharing water for decades. But it is expensive and certainly cannot survive the harsh environment of Mars.
Talking In the shlokas, Ramani said that when he read the report about saltwater on Mars, he wondered if his experiment could be implemented there.
The report under consideration is of Phoenix Lander (2008) who came to Mars during a mission to trace the history of water on Mars. The lander discovered ice samples with a trench two inches deep, as well as traces of magnesium perchlorate in Martian soil.
Ramani said that they are now trying to make a portable version that can be operated on Mars.
“Paradoxically, percolate dissolved in water, the so-called impurities, actually help Mars-like environments,” said Srihari Sankarasubramanian, one of the co-authors.
NASA is set to land its first group of astronauts on the planet by 2033. Both fuel and oxygen will be a necessity for humans there.
It remains to be seen that they are adopting Ramani’s technique in their mission plan.