NASA Wants To Make Oxygen On Mars

NASA apparently has a plan to make oxygen on Mars. The plan is to carry microorganisms in Martian soil to see if they can coax some oxygen out of the bacteria as a byproduct.

This could be used for breathable air, as well as a component of rocket fuel for return journeys to the home world.

Science fiction writer Greg Bear used a similar idea; in his 2014 book War Dogs, he describes oxygen fountains:

Making oxygen is the trick. Cracking water - hydrolysis - is comparatively easy; CO2 and oxidized dust take more energy and time. That's why we need fountains. Fountains are big, often the size of a semi cab... They plop down on the Red and if the dust is deep enough - if they're not on impenetrable hardpan - they burrow in...

Slow, stodgy NASA will probably use tiny little plots with tiny microorganisms to get tiny amounts of oxygen. Is there a better way?

Science fiction movie buffs remember the 1990 movie Total Recall, made from Philip K. Dick's 1966 short story We Can Remember It For You Wholesale. In the movie, vast machines were left on Mars to pull oxygen out of the soil.


(From Total Recall movie)

This what it looked like when they were turned on.

Now, that's oxygen production!

See also this earlier article Microbes To Terraform Mars? with references to terraforming, a fine science fiction word.

Via Independent; thanks to @orbitalblue for the tip.

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