That’s right, even during the pandemic scientists are hard at work to make Mars habitable for humans, something which has been in the works for the last few years.
Many innovators have pitched in their ideas; SpaceX’s CEO Elon Musk is at the forefront of getting people to Mars, confident his space programme will be the key to our move to the red planet. He discussed the use of glass domes, however, this would be quite an issue considering the large amounts of oxygen they would require, while others have thought about terraforming, which is something that is still stuck in the realm of sci-fi.
Luckily for us, the bright minds over at Washington University in St. Louis have developed a way to convert the carbon dioxide that makes up 96% of Mars’ atmosphere into oxygen. Basically, their plan is to split frozen brine into hydrogen and oxygen through electrolysis. Simply put, frozen brine is like frozen water under the surface, and electrolysis is basically sending a current through a liquid or solution to decompose chemicals.
Leader of the study Vijay Ramani, professor at the University, explained: “The presence of the brine is fortuitous because it lowers freezing point of the water. You take the salty, brackish water and electrolyze that. Our process takes the water and splits it into hydrogen and oxygen.”
Although he admitted that there may be some road-blocks, “There hasn’t been any substantive evidence of bulk brine deposits, and while there are likely some in the frozen form I absolutely don’t expect to find them as liquids.”
It’s quite a lot to take in, but for all the non-technical folk out there, this basically means that we should start packing our bags in the next few decades because our next home might just be on Mars!