CAMBRIDGE, MASS. (WHDH) - A team at MIT is working on a project with a lot of “Moxie.”

The car battery-sized project, nicknamed Moxie after the classic New England soda, aims to make Mars breathable for future human inhabitants, as part of NASA’s Perseverance rover mission.

“It’ll bring the day when human beings first set foot on Mars maybe a decade closer, maybe a lot closer than that,” said Moxie Project lead investigator Michael Hecht.

According to the MIT researchers working on the project, carbon dioxide makes up 96% of the gas on Mars. Moxie is designed to turn it into oxygen. A study just published in the journal Science Advances shows Moxie accomplished that mission in an experiment inside NASA’s Mars Perseverance rover, which could lighten the load for future trips.

“The alternative, of course, is just bringing 25 or 30 tons of oxygen with you, which is not only a tremendous burden, and a tremendous cost, and a tremendous risk, but it also isn’t sustainable,” Hecht said.

Right now, Moxie produces the same amount of oxygen as a tree, but plans are in the work to increase its output.

“The big Moxie that will fly in preparation for the human mission, that might be the size of a washing machine instead of a toaster,” Hecht said.

Researchers said the goal is to not only visit Mars, but to ultimately have the option to live there.

“When we go, we want to stay, and Moxie will help us stay,” Hecht said.

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