Chinese scientists develop AI robot that could make oxygen on Mars

Chinese scientists develop AI robot that could make oxygen on MarsChinese scientists develop AI robot that could make oxygen on Mars
via NPG Press
Ryan General
November 20, 2023
Chinese scientists have reportedly created an AI robot capable of autonomously conducting chemical reactions to produce oxygen from water on Mars. 
What it does: Researchers from the University of Science and Technology of China in Hefei have developed the “AI chemist,” a robot designed to extract oxygen from water on the Red Planet. Previous studies have established the existence of large amounts of water on Mars, most of which exist in the form of ice.
The new research, published in the journal Nature Synthesis on Nov. 13, notes that the robot employed advanced machine learning algorithms to analyze Martian meteorites. It successfully calculated over 3.7 million molecules it could make from iron, nickel, manganese, magnesium, aluminum and calcium — six metallic elements found in the rocks.

Finding a catalyst: The AI chemist selected, synthesized and tested 243 of those molecules from the Martian samples without human involvement in less than two months. According to a press release, a human chemist would take some 2,000 years to finish a similar process.
The best catalyst chosen is able to break down water molecules into their constituent hydrogen and oxygen components at the frigid temperature of minus 37 degrees Celsius, aligning with the cold Martian surface conditions.
Current challenges: Co-author Jun Jiang acknowledged the complexity of making the robot work seamlessly on Mars, considering factors such as atmospheric composition, air density, humidity and gravity. Despite these challenges, the researchers are optimistic about the system’s potential to produce nearly 60 grams of oxygen per hour for every square meter of Martian material. The findings potentially eliminate the need for space travelers to transport oxygen or the catalyst required to produce it, as the system can utilize compounds found in Martian ores.
Future applications: The robot can also generate other useful catalysts, hinting at broader applications in extraterrestrial exploration. 
The researchers are set to test the robot’s performance under a variety of other conditions on Mars aside from temperature. If successful, the technology could play a crucial role in sustaining human life and facilitating rocket fuel production on the planet, they noted.
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