ANU cosmologist and astrophysicist Dr Brad Tucker said the successful experiment on Mars converting carbon dioxide into breathable oxygen is “a big step in the right direction” for space exploration.
“It really has been one of the key instruments on Perseverance, we’ve heard a lot about Ingenuity and this drone but Perseverance has really got on with this job,” he told Sky News.
Dr Tucker said the majority of Mars’ atmosphere is carbon dioxide which can support plant life but not human life and it is not possible to bring required amounts through space travel.
“We obviously need oxygen to breathe and you don’t want to bring all of the oxygen you need to support humans to Mars with us, it’s too complicated and too expensive.”
“If you can convert it into oxygen that is amazing and so they are able to produce five grams of oxygen which doesn’t sound like a lot but it’s enough for about a human to breathe for 15 minutes.”
Dr Tucker said the oxygen conversion would also help in “rocket fuel and energy creation” and was not just limited to sustaining human life.
“The fact that it did work and they were able to do it relatively quickly and successfully is going to pave the way for it to do it more and longer.”