A US space agency Mars rover that would launch in 2020 is to carry a device that will turn carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere into oxygen.
The oxygen thus created could then be used to make rocket fuel and for future astronauts to breathe, according to Bill Gerstenmaier, associate administrator for the Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA.
“The 2020 rover will help answer questions about the Martian environment that astronauts will face and test technologies they need before landing on, exploring and returning from the Red Planet,” he has said.
“This is a real step forward in helping future human exploration of Mars by being able to produce your oxygen on the surface of Mars,” Michael Meyer, lead scientist for the Mars Exploration Program at NASA headquarters in Washington, D.C., has said.
Other proposals accepted for the unmanned USD-1.9-billion rover include advanced cameras and spectrometers for analyzing chemical composition, mineralogy and detecting organic compounds.
NASA has sent a series of robotic vehicles to Mars, the latest is the Curiosity rover which launched in 2012, and hopes to have people exploring the surface of Earth’s neighboring planet by the 2030s.
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