(ORDO NEWS) — Scientists at the University of California, Irvine are working on a portable system that could help astronauts on Mars fuel spacecraft for their return journey using compounds from the Red Planet’s atmosphere.
The further a person goes, the more things he takes with him. However, if we are talking about space travel, then the rule “the less the better” works. That is why scientists from all over the world are coming up with ways to create vital things on other planets.
The authors of the study believe that using carbon dioxide from the atmosphere of Mars and water from ice on the surface, methane can be created, which could then be used as rocket fuel. The project is still in the works, but if the development of scientists passes all tests and trials, this system will make long-distance space travel more realistic.
Today, scientists at the International Space Station are already using a similar two-step process to convert water to oxygen. The project of scientists from the United States differs in that they introduce a zinc catalyst into this process, which bypasses the process of water synthesis and reduces the chemical reaction to one stage. The simplicity of the process will create a more compact and lighter fuel system for transportation to Mars and other distant places.
“Zinc is an excellent catalyst,” notes lead author Huolin Xin. “With it, the system becomes mobile for space travel.”
Xin and his team have already discovered that the chemical reaction works in a laboratory in conditions similar to Mars, but the authors of the project will have to test their work in “more realistic conditions.” In a press release, Xin notes, “A lot of engineering and research work is required before our system can be fully implemented. But already now we have very promising results.”
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