Jump to content

Magnetohydrodynamic Drive for Hydrogen and Oxygen Production in Mars Transfer


Recommended Posts

  • Publishers

2 min read

Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)

Magnetohydrodynamic Drive in psace near Mars.
Graphic depiction of Magnetohydrodynamic Drive for Hydrogen and Oxygen Production in Mars Transfer
Alvaro Romero-Calvo

Alvaro Romero-Calvo
Georgia Tech Research Corporation

Human space exploration is presented with multiple challenges, such as the near absence of buoyancy in orbit or the reliable, efficient, and sustainable operation of life support systems. The production and management of oxygen and hydrogen are of key importance for long-term space travel and, in particular, for the human transfer to Mars. However, existing technical solutions have failed to meet the reliability and efficiency levels required in such scenarios.

As an alternative, we propose an efficient water-splitting architecture that combines multiple functionalities into a minimum number of subsystems, hence enhancing the overall reliability of the mission. This new approach employs a magnetohydrodynamic electrolytic cell that extracts and separates oxygen and hydrogen gas without moving parts in microgravity, hence removing the need for a forced water recirculation loop and associated ancillary equipment such as pumps or centrifuges. Preliminary estimations indicate that the integration of functionalities leads to up to 50% mass budget reductions with respect to the Oxygen Generation Assembly architecture for a 99% reliability level. These values apply to a standard four-crew Mars transfer with 3.36 kg oxygen consumption per day.

A dedicated study is required to assess the feasibility of the concept and its integration into a suitable oxygen production architecture, motivating this proposal. Its successful development would effectively enable the recycling of water and oxygen in long-term space travel. Additional technologies of interest to NASA and the general public, such as water-based SmallSat propulsion or in-situ resource utilization, would also benefit from the concepts introduced here.

2024 Phase I Selection

View the full article

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

  • Similar Topics

    • By NASA
      6 min read
      Preparations for Next Moonwalk Simulations Underway (and Underwater)
      The specks in this scene were caused by charged particles from a solar storm hitting a camera aboard NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover. Curiosity uses its navigation cameras to try and capture images of dust devils and wind gusts, like the one seen here.NASA/JPL-Caltech NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover captured black-and-white streaks and specks using one of its navigation cameras just as particles from a solar storm arrived on the Martian surface. These visual artifacts are caused by energetic particles hitting the camera’s image detector.NASA/JPL-Caltech In addition to producing auroras, a recent extreme storm provided more detail on how much radiation future astronauts could encounter on the Red Planet.
      Mars scientists have been anticipating epic solar storms ever since the Sun entered a period of peak activity earlier this year called solar maximum. Over the past month, NASA’s Mars rovers and orbiters have provided researchers with front-row seats to a series of solar flares and coronal mass ejections that have reached Mars — in some cases, even causing Martian auroras.
      This science bonanza has offered an unprecedented opportunity to study how such events unfold in deep space, as well as how much radiation exposure the first astronauts on Mars could encounter.
      The biggest event occurred on May 20 with a solar flare later estimated to be an X12 — X-class solar flares are the strongest of several types — based on data from the Solar Orbiter spacecraft, a joint mission between ESA (European Space Agency) and NASA. The flare sent out X-rays and gamma rays toward the Red Planet, while a subsequent coronal mass ejection launched charged particles. Moving at the speed of light, the X-rays and gamma rays from the flare arrived first, while the charged particles trailed slightly behind, reaching Mars in just tens of minutes.
      The unfolding space weather was closely tracked by analysts at the Moon to Mars Space Weather Analysis Office at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, which flagged the possibility of incoming charged particles following the coronal mass ejection.
      If astronauts had been standing next to NASA’s Curiosity Mars rover at the time, they would have received a radiation dose of 8,100 micrograys — equivalent to 30 chest X-rays. While not deadly, it was the biggest surge measured by Curiosity’s Radiation Assessment Detector, or RAD, since the rover landed 12 years ago.
      To view this video please enable JavaScript, and consider upgrading to a web browser that supports HTML5 video
      The purple color in this video shows auroras on Mars’ nightside as detected by the ultraviolet instrument aboard NASA’s MAVEN orbiter between May 14 and 20, 2024. The brighter the purple, the more auroras that were present.NASA/University of Colorado/LASP RAD’s data will help scientists plan for the highest level of radiation exposure that might be encountered by astronauts, who could use on the Martian landscape for protection.
      “Cliffsides or lava tubes would provide additional shielding for an astronaut from such an event. In Mars orbit or deep space, the dose rate would be significantly more,” said RAD’s principal investigator, Don Hassler of Southwest Research Institute’s Solar System Science and Exploration Division in Boulder, Colorado. “I wouldn’t be surprised if this active region on the Sun continues to erupt, meaning even more solar storms at both Earth and Mars over the coming weeks.”
      During the May 20 event, so much energy from the storm struck the surface that black-and-white images from Curiosity’s navigation cameras danced with “snow” — white streaks and specks caused by charged particles hitting the cameras.
      Similarly, the star camera NASA’s 2001 Mars Odyssey orbiter uses for orientation was inundated with energy from solar particles, momentarily going out. (Odyssey has other ways to orient itself, and recovered the camera within an hour.) Even with the brief lapse in its star camera, the orbiter collected vital data on X-rays, gamma rays, and charged particles using its High-Energy Neutron Detector.
      This wasn’t Odyssey’s first brush with a solar flare: In 2003, solar particles from a solar flare that was ultimately estimated to be an X45 fried Odyssey’s radiation detector, which was designed to measure such events.
      Learn how NASA’s MAVEN and the agency’s Curiosity rover will study solar flares and radiation at Mars during solar maximum – a period when the Sun is at peak activity. Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/GSFC/SDO/MSSS/University of Colorado Auroras Over Mars
      High above Curiosity, NASA’s MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) orbiter captured another effect of the recent solar activity: glowing auroras over the planet. The way these auroras occur is different than those seen on Earth.
      Our home planet is shielded from charged particles by a robust magnetic field, which normally limits auroras to regions near the poles. (Solar maximum is the reason behind the recent auroras seen as far south as Alabama.) Mars lost its internally generated magnetic field in the ancient past, so there’s no protection from the barrage of energetic particles. When charged particles hit the Martian atmosphere, it results in auroras that engulf the entire planet.
      During solar events, the Sun releases a wide range of energetic particles. Only the most energetic can reach the surface to be measured by RAD. Slightly less energetic particles, those that cause auroras, are sensed by MAVEN’s Solar Energetic Particle instrument.
      Scientists can use that instrument’s data to rebuild a timeline of each minute as the solar particles screamed past, meticulously teasing apart how the event evolved.
      “This was the largest solar energetic particle event that MAVEN has ever seen,” said MAVEN Space Weather Lead, Christina Lee of the University of California, Berkeley’s Space Sciences Laboratory. “There have been several solar events in past weeks, so we were seeing wave after wave of particles hitting Mars.”
      New Spacecraft to Mars
      The data coming in from NASA’s spacecraft won’t only help future planetary missions to the Red Planet. It’s contributing to a wealth of information being gathered by the agency’s other heliophysics missions, including Voyager, Parker Solar Probe, and the forthcoming ESCAPADE (Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers) mission.
      Targeting a late-2024 launch, ESCAPADE’s twin small satellites will orbit Mars and observe space weather from a unique dual perspective that is more detailed than what MAVEN can currently measure alone.
      More About the Missions
      Curiosity was built by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is managed by Caltech in Pasadena, California. JPL leads the mission on behalf of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington.
      MAVEN’s principal investigator is based at the Laboratory for Atmospheric and Space Physics (LASP) at the University of Colorado Boulder. LASP is also responsible for managing science operations and public outreach and communications. NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, manages the MAVEN mission. Lockheed Martin Space built the spacecraft and is responsible for mission operations. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California provides navigation and Deep Space Network support. The MAVEN team is preparing to celebrate the spacecraft’s 10th year at Mars in September 2024.
      For more about these missions, visit:
      News Media Contacts
      Andrew Good
      Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, Calif.
      Karen Fox / Charles Blue
      NASA Headquarters, Washington
      202-358-1600 / 202-802-5345
      karen.c.fox@nasa.gov / charles.e.blue@nasa.gov
      Last Updated Jun 10, 2024 Related Terms
      Mars Curiosity (Rover) Goddard Space Flight Center Jet Propulsion Laboratory MAVEN (Mars Atmosphere and Volatile EvolutioN) Explore More
      3 min read PACE Celebrates National Ocean Month With Colorful Views of the Planet
      Article 3 days ago 2 min read Hubble Examines a Barred Spiral’s Light
      This NASA/ESA Hubble Space Telescope image features the barred spiral galaxy NGC 3059, which lies…
      Article 3 days ago 4 min read Jonathan Lunine Appointed Chief Scientist of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory
      Article 4 days ago Keep Exploring Discover Related Topics
      Humans in Space
      Climate Change
      Solar System
      View the full article
    • By European Space Agency
      ESA’s ExoMars and Mars Express missions have spotted water frost for the first time near Mars’s equator, a part of the planet where it was thought impossible for frost to exist.
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      NASA is moving forward with ten studies to examine more affordable and faster methods of bringing samples from Mars’ surface back to Earth as part of the agency’s Mars Sample Return Program. As part of this effort, NASA will award a firm-fixed-price contract for up to $1.5 million to conduct 90-day studies to seven industry proposers.
      Additionally, NASA centers, CalTech’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, and Johns Hopkins’ Applied Physics Laboratory are producing studies. Once completed, NASA will assess all studies to consider alterations or enhancements to the Mars Sample Return architecture.
      “Mars Sample Return will be one of the most complex missions NASA has undertaken, and it is critical that we carry it out more quickly, with less risk, and at a lower cost,” said Nelson. “I’m excited to see the vision that these companies, centers and partners present as we look for fresh, exciting, and innovative ideas to uncover great cosmic secrets from the Red Planet.”
      Over the last quarter century, NASA has engaged in a systematic effort to determine the early history of Mars and how it can help us understand the formation and evolution of habitable worlds, including Earth. As part of that effort, Mars Sample Return has been a long-term goal of international planetary exploration for the past two decades. NASA’s Perseverance rover has been collecting samples for later collection and return to Earth since it landed on Mars in 2021.
      The following companies and proposals were selected from among those that responded to an April 15 request for proposals:
      Lockheed Martinin Littleton, Colorado: “Lockheed Martin Rapid Mission Design Studies for Mars Sample Return” SpaceX in Hawthorne, California: “Enabling Mars Sample Return With Starship” Aerojet Rocketdyne in Huntsville, Alabama: “A High-Performance Liquid Mars Ascent Vehicle, Using Highly Reliable and Mature Propulsion Technologies, to Improve Program Affordability and Schedule” Blue Origin in Monrovia, California: “Leveraging Artemis for Mars Sample Return” Quantum Space, in Rockville, Maryland: “Quantum Anchor Leg Mars Sample Return Study” Northrop Grumman in Elkton, Maryland: “High TRL MAV Propulsion Trades and Concept Design for MSR Rapid Mission Design” Whittinghill Aerospace in Camarillo, California: “A Rapid Design Study for the MSR Single Stage Mars Ascent Vehicle” NASA’s Mars Sample Return is a strategic partnership with ESA (the European Space Agency). Returning scientifically selected samples to Earth for study using the most sophisticated instruments around the world can revolutionize our understanding of Mars and would fulfill one of the highest priority solar system exploration goals as identified by the National Academies of Science, Engineering and Medicine.
      For more information on Mars Sample Return, visit:
      Dewayne Washington
      Headquarters, Washington
      Last Updated Jun 07, 2024 LocationNASA Headquarters View the full article
    • By NASA
      NASA has awarded contracts to six companies to supply liquid nitrogen and liquid oxygen in support of operations at agency centers and facilities across the United States. The indefinite-delivery/fixed-price contract runs from Monday, July 1, 2024, through June 30, 2029.
      The awards and approximate maximum contract values are:
      Air Products and Chemicals Inc., Allentown, Pennsylvania, $36.9 million Airgas USA LLC (South), Kennesaw, Georgia, $4.7 million Airgas USA LLC (Central), Tulsa, Oklahoma, $5.1 million Linde Inc., Danbury, Connecticut, $42.2 million Matheson Tri-Gas Inc., Warren, New Jersey, $1.8 million   Messer LLC, Bridgewater, New Jersey, $62.3 million The total maximum delivery of liquid nitrogen, which NASA uses for pneumatic actuation, purging and inerting, pressurization, and cooling, will be about 656.8 tons, 30.4 million gallons, and 740,000 liters. The total maximum delivery of liquid oxygen, which is used as an oxidizer in cryogenic rocket engines, will be about 2.1 million gallons and 243,000 tons.
      The commodities will support current and future aerospace flight, simulation, research, development, testing, and other operations at the following NASA centers and facilities: Ames Research Center in California’s Silicon Valley; Glenn Research Center in Cleveland and Neil Armstrong Test Facility in Sandusky, Ohio; Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland; Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California; Johnson Space Center in Houston and White Sands Test Facility in Las Cruces, New Mexico; Kennedy Space Center in Florida; Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia; Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama; Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans; and Stennis Space Center in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.
      For more information about NASA programs and missions, visit:
      Abbey Donaldson
      Headquarters, Washington
      View the full article
    • By NASA
      4 Min Read Space Station Research Advances NASA’s Plans to Explore the Moon, Mars
      The full moon is pictured as the International Space Station orbited 254 miles above the Pacific Ocean northeast of Guam. Credits: NASA Space, the saying goes, is hard. And the farther humans go, the harder it can get.
      Some of the challenges on missions to explore the Moon and Mars include preventing microbial contamination of these destinations, navigating there safely, protecting crew members and hardware from radiation, and maintaining and repairing equipment.
      Research on the International Space Station is helping NASA scientists develop tools and processes to ensure success on these important missions. Here are highlights from some of the investigations making space a little easier.
      Tracking Tiny Stowaways
      Bacteria and fungi live in and on all humans and all around us on Earth. Most of these microorganisms are beneficial or harmless but introducing them to other celestial bodies could adversely affect our ability to study ecosystems on those other worlds.
      Crew members will conduct a spacewalk to collect samples near space station life support system vents for ISS External Microorganisms, an investigation to assess whether the orbiting laboratory releases microorganisms into space. Results could provide insight into the potential for organisms to survive and reproduce in space and help researchers determine which microbes would most likely contaminate other planetary bodies visited by crewed missions.
      NASA astronaut Victor Glover trains for the ISS External Microorganisms spacewalk in the Neutral Buoyancy Laboratory pool at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston.NASA A miniature, hand-held digital microscope designed to make in-flight medical diagnoses, the Moon Microscope, also can test water, food, and surfaces for contamination. The device images samples at high resolution and processes data on web-enabled devices such as phones or tablets. Multiple users can access the microscope simultaneously, and some applications run autonomously.
      Getting There and Back
      Spacecraft must have sophisticated high-tech systems for navigating. Sextant Navigation tests the function of sextants in microgravity as an emergency backup navigation technique for Artemis and other future exploration missions. These mechanical devices have guided navigators for centuries, and Gemini and Apollo missions demonstrated they were useful for astronauts.
      Astronaut Alexander Gerst of ESA (European Space Agency) tests the Sextant Navigation device.NASA
      Refining Radiation Detection
      Missions beyond low Earth orbit increase exposure to radiation, which can pose a hazard to human health and interfere with equipment operation. As NASA prepares for future missions, providing adequate protection is vital.
      The Hybrid Electronic Radiation Assessor, or HERA, was built to serve as a primary radiation detection system for the Orion spacecraft, which will carry crews into orbit around the Moon. The International Space Station Hybrid Electronic Radiation Assessor investigation modified the system to operate on the space station to provide researchers input for use on future exploration missions.
      Artemis HERA on Space Station further modified the radiation detection system so researchers could continue to evaluate the hardware in the space radiation environment prior to Artemis II.
      ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet holds a mobile unit for the ESA-Active-Dosimeters experiment.NASA Active-Dosimeters, an investigation led by ESA (European Space Agency), tested a wearable system to measure radiation exposure to crew members on the space station and how it changes with the station’s orbit and altitude. Data from the wearable dosimeter improved radiation risk assessments and could lead to better protection for astronauts, including the ability to quickly respond to changes in exposure throughout future exploration missions.
      Robot Helpers
      On future exploration missions, robotic technology can help crew members with basic tasks, monitor and maintain equipment, and conduct operations such as sample collection, reducing the need to expose astronauts to harsh environments. Integrated System for Autonomous and Adaptive Caretaking demonstrates using autonomous robots to transfer and unpack cargo and to track and respond to maintenance issues such as leaks and fires, which could protect valuable equipment and reduce costly repairs on future missions. The investigation uses the space station’s Astrobee and Robonaut robots.
      NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy sets up a test with an Astrobee robotic assistant.NASA Multi-Resolution Scanning uses the station’s Astrobees to test sensors and robotics to support automated 3D sensing, mapping, and situational awareness functions. On future Gateway and lunar surface missions, such systems could automatically detect defects and conduct remote maintenance and autonomous operation of vehicles such as rovers.
      ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Samantha Cristoforetti practices maneuvers for the Surface Avatar investigation.NASA Surface Avatar evaluates crew operation of multiple autonomous robots in space. The investigation also assesses crew member responsiveness to feedback on the consoles used to operate robots remotely, which supports design of effective setups for operating robots on the ground from a spacecraft orbiting above. Results contribute to the development of other uses of robotic assistance such as returning samples from Mars and asteroids.
      Melissa Gaskill
      International Space Station Research Communications Team
      NASA’s Johnson Space Center
      Search this database of scientific experiments to learn more about those mentioned above.
      Keep Exploring Discover More Topics
      Space Station Research and Technology
      Station Science 101: Biology and Biotechnology
      Living in Space
      Last Updated May 30, 2024 Related Terms
      ISS Research Biological & Physical Sciences Cell and Molecular Biology General Human Research Program Humans in Space International Space Station (ISS) Johnson Space Center Microbiology Science & Research View the full article
  • Check out these Videos

  • Create New...