We Asked a NASA Technologist: Is There Oxygen on Mars? [Video]

First Humans on Mars

This artist’s concept depicts astronauts and human habitats on Mars. NASA’s Mars 2020 rover will carry a number of technologies that could make Mars safer and easier to explore for humans. Credit: NASA

Is there oxygen on Mars? Yes, Mars has oxygen but not very much and definitely not enough to just go out and breathe on the surface of Mars. NASA engineer Asad Aboobaker tells us more.

The density of the oxygen on Mars is about 1/10,000th of what we have here on Earth. But Mars’ atmosphere does have a lot of carbon dioxide — about 500 times more CO2 than oxygen. If we want to harvest oxygen on Mars for use by future explorers or launch systems, a better way might be to pull some of it out of the CO2 and use that instead. That’s where MOXIE comes in.

MOXIE is a technology on NASA’s Perseverance rover, and it has proven for the very first time that we can extract oxygen from the carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere. It’s a technology demonstration so it only produces a small amount of oxygen. For future human exploration, we would need to send a scaled-up version, maybe 200 times larger than the current MOXIE.

If such a system landed on Mars, some of this would provide oxygen for the astronauts to breathe but most of it would be used as rocket propellant to get astronauts off the surface of Mars and back to Earth.

So, is there oxygen on Mars? Not much, but that’s okay because we can make it ourselves.

We Asked a NASA Expert Video Series

14 Comments on "We Asked a NASA Technologist: Is There Oxygen on Mars? [Video]"

  1. Santhi A/P R.cheladorai | November 1, 2021 at 6:53 am | Reply

    I would like to go Marikh before I die

  2. Mars has tons of oxygen or it wouldn’t be red. I wouldn’t want to have someone read this and think there wasn’t o2 on mars.

  3. All you got to do is plant vegetation that can handle Mars extreme cold evening temps and eventually oxygen will be plentiful

  4. MEHBOOB ALAM SHER | November 1, 2021 at 8:23 pm | Reply

    Have some water on mars to drink Easily like Earth .

  5. Is there Starbucks on Mars?

  6. It’s not going to last forever

  7. Arnold Schwarzenegger has already been to Mars and he lobotomized and lost his memory and then got it back and started a big fight over underground oxygen stores. The same thing happened to Colin Farrell almost 2 decades later. Mars looks like a lot of trouble for people looking for oxygen. 😅

  8. All lies we been on mars for 30 years or more. Tell us the truth. Who cares what the Bible thumpers think. There’s alot more. TELL IT ALL..

  9. Narayana Sunil Kumar | November 2, 2021 at 9:53 pm | Reply

    Agreeing to co-readers, there is lots of locked up Oxygen on Mars. Need to start a bubble with grasses and herbs and Iron consuming microbes to release the trapped O2. Pioneers in terrain succession. If it rains water then it needs to be trapped below ground.

  10. Mars has a solid core. No magnetic poles, therefore no atmosphere. Any o2 produced by plants would drift off into space. It must be harnessed somehow through technology.

  11. How long has the space station been there?

  12. What if sent missions to plant mass amounts of evergreen trees on this red planet wouldn’t that eventually produce O2 ?

  13. Matthew Metcalfe | November 5, 2021 at 9:29 am | Reply

    This information is so old. Are you bored or have you just come out of a hole? God help me..

  14. Hey what’s up, cool.

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