October 22, 2021

Beyond Going Long

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We don’t have to transport fuel to Mars anymore, scientists can get it out of the atmosphere there

According to scientists, we no longer have to attract fuel to Mars, because new technology can produce rocket fuel directly from the Martian atmosphere, reach futurism. Technology has great potential to greatly facilitate future missions and the planned colonization of the Red Planet.

Carbon dioxide will help

Although the atmosphere of Mars is only 1% of the density of the Earth, it can greatly facilitate the very complex task of colonization. The atmosphere of Mars consists almost exclusively of carbon dioxide.

Scientists used Sabatier’s reaction to this process. here how Phys.org reportsIt is also used by the International Space Station to remove carbon dioxide from the air that astronauts breathe in and then produce fuel from it to keep it in orbit. The ISS is relatively “low” and without regular correction there is a dip.

The surface of Mars. Source: NASA / JPL-Caltech

“It’s like a gas station on Mars. Using this reactor, you’re going to pump out carbon dioxide and produce methane for the rocket,” said Jinjie Wu, associate science professor at the University of Cincinnati.

SpaceX has Christmas

The published study brings Especially great news for Muskov SpaceX, who wants to colonize Mars with a rocket Starship. It uses methane as its fuelWhereas, from Mars it consumes much less due to about a third of gravity.

Of course, oxygen is also important, without which methane cannot be burned. But in that regard, we’ve had good news for a long time and we’ve brought in a persistent new Rover. Using a special device, he produced oxygen on Mars for the first time Also from the atmosphere of Mars.

An experimental reactor to produce methane from carbon dioxide. Source: Andrew Higley / UC Creative

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Wu and his team are experimenting with various catalysts, such as graphene quantum dots. These extremely thin layers of carbon have the potential to increase methane production and thus make the whole process more efficient.

Great efficiency

This process of producing fuel on Mars is not entirely new. However, it is still the most effective. As Wu said, it’s up to 100 times more efficient than it was ten years ago, and progress will come faster and faster.

“In the next 10 years, we will have a number of start-ups that will try to commercialize this technology,” Wu added. His team is also experimenting with catalysts for the production of non-methane CO2 materials.

NASA/JPL-Caltech/Editor

One of them is, for example, ethylene, which is an essential component in the production of plastics or rubber. In addition, production can be done using renewable energy sources, which sometimes produce a lot. This allows us to store the excess energy directly in chemicals rather than in batteries.