"Many of the tools are designed as experimental steps toward human exploration of the red planet. Crucially, Perseverance is equipped with a device called the Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment, or MOXIE: an attempt to produce oxygen on a planet where it makes up less than 0.2 percent of the atmosphere.
Oxygen is a cumbersome payload on space missions. It takes up a lot of room, and it's very unlikely that astronauts could bring enough of it to Mars for humans to breathe there, let alone to fuel spaceships for the long journey home.
That's the problem MOXIE is looking to solve. The car-battery-sized robot is a roughly 1 percent scale model of the device scientists hope to one day send to Mars, perhaps in the 2030s.
Like a tree, MOXIE works by taking in carbon dioxide, though it's designed specifically for the thin Martian atmosphere. It then electrochemically splits the molecules into oxygen and carbon monoxide, and combines the oxygen molecules into O2.
It analyses the O2 for purity, shooting for about 99.6 percent O2. Then it releases both the breathable oxygen and the carbon monoxide back into the planet's atmosphere. Future scaled-up devices, however, would store the oxygen produced in tanks for eventual use by humans and rockets." sciencealert.com
If this works it would be a game changer of the same magnitude as efforts to extract liquid water on Mars but also on Luna. It is too expensive to haul oxygen or water for large scale use into orbit. This would help change all that. pl