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Mars OXygen ISRU Experiment Project

Project Introduction

The Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE) will be the first in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) technology demonstration on Mars. Competitively selected in 2014, MOXIE will fly with the Mars 2020 mission in 2020, to land on Mars in 2021. Sponsored by HEOMD and the Space Technology Mission Directorate (STMD), MOXIE will utilize solid oxide electrolysis to process Mars’ CO2 atmosphere to produce O2.  MOXIE will be a critical first step in long-duration mission architectures that would require use of...

Technologies Within this Project

Technology Details: Solid Oxide Electrolysis (SOXE) for Processing Mars Atmosphere

This technology is categorized as a hardware subsystem for unmanned spaceflight

Description of technology:

The ability to manufacture resources on other solar system bodies is key to future exploration architectures. MOXIE includes the Solid OXide Electrolysis (SOXE) subsystem that will manufacture O2 from Mars CO2 atmosphere. As a technology demonstration, the SOXE will be operated intermittently during the Mars 2020 mission's prime mission year and will produce at least 20 grams of O2 at >99.6% purity. The SOXE subsystem is designed for resilience with respect to dust and other environmental challe...

Capabilities provided:

 

The SOXE architecture is scalable to human-scale production rates and ground-based prototypes are robust enough to be considered for Mars exploration uses.

Potential applications:

Potential applications include atmospheric processing on Mars to produce consumable oxygen for propellant production and human use. Solid-oxide electrolysis could also be applicable to oxygen manufacture in spacecraft and in processing water harvested from airless bodies such as the Moon. SOXE also has great potential utility for fuel cells, followed by emphasis on H2 production for a hydrogen economy. Architectures have been developed for compactly packaging stacks of cells, although seals and ...

Performance metrics:

Description of Performance Metric Unit Quantity
Production rate g/hr 20
O2 Purity 99.6%

Anticipated Benefits

Benefits to NASA funded missions

A key element of NASA’s plans to send humans to Mars is the ability to utilize resources at the destination; this will reduce mass launched from Earth and increase mission resiliency.

Benefits to NASA unfunded & planned missions

Once demonstrated on Mars, incorporation of ISRU technologies in future missions will be key to realizing the vision of a sustainable and resilient space exploration architecture. ISRU is expected to play a key role in NASA’s expansion beyond low-Earth orbit. For example, future crewed missions will be enabled by use of in-situ resources to produce oxygen for propellant and other consumables.

Benefits to the commercial space industry

By flight qualifying ISRU, NASA supports the development of a new technology readily available for use by commercial resource prospecting missions. This can create new markets for commercial missions anywhere in the Solar System.

Benefits to the nation

 

This technology can support the nation’s goals for human long-term space exploration and the development of new markets and destinations.

U.S. Work Locations and Key Partners

NASA Organizations Performing Work Role Location
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL)
Supporting Center Pasadena, CA

U.S. States with Work:

 
U.S. States and Territories with Work on this Project
California Utah
Massachusetts
Other Organizations Performing Work Type of Organization
  • Ceramatec, Inc.  (Salt Lake City, UT)
Commercial Company
  • Columbia University, New York 
Commercial Company
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology 
College/University
Contributing Partners Type of Organization
  • University of Copenhagen
College/University
  • Imperial College London
College/University

Organizational Responsibility

Responsible Mission Directorate:

Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate (HEOMD)

Responsible Program:

Advanced Exploration Systems Program

Project Management

Program Director:

  • Jason Crusan

Program Executive:

  • Victoria Friedensen

Project Manager:

  • Jeffrey Mellstrom

Principal Investigator:

  • Michael Hecht

Project Technology Areas

Primary:

  • Human Health, Life Support, and Habitation Systems (TA 6)
    • Environmental Control and Life Support Systems and Habitation Systems (TA 6.1)
    • Air Revitalization (TA 6.1.1)
    • CO2 Reduction (TA 6.1.1.2)
    • CO2 Reduction (TA 6.1.1.2)

Secondary:

  • Space Power and Energy Storage (TA 3)
    • Space Power and Energy Storage (TA 3)

Additional Technology Areas:

  • Human Exploration Destination Systems (TA 7)
    • In-Situ Resource Utilization (TA 7.1)
    • In-Situ Resource Utilization (TA 7.1)
  • Materials, Structures, Mechanical Systems and Manufacturing (TA 12)
    • Materials, Structures, Mechanical Systems and Manufacturing (TA 12)

Project Duration

Start Date: Jul 2014

End Date: Jan 2023

Project Technology Maturity

  • Start
  • Current
  • Estimated End
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
  • 6
  • 7
  • 8
  • 9

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