A team of Australian students is attempting to solve the problem regarding the quality of air on the Red Planet.
Scientists have been studying the atmosphere and surface of Mars for several decades now. Spacecraft sent from the Earth are hovering in the Mars atmosphere, and rovers are examining the surface of the planet.
Josh Richards, a candidate for the Mars One mission, along with some students from the University of Western Australia, is hoping to generate breathable air for Mars as part of a project called Helena Payload, which has reached the final round of an international competition.
Mars One, a Dutch not-for-profit organization, announced in May 2012 that it hopes to send humans to Mars so that they can establish a permanent settlement on the planet.
"Mars is the stepping stone of the human race on its voyage into the universe. Human settlement on Mars will aid our understanding of the origins of the solar system, the origins of life and our place in the universe. As with the Apollo Moon landings, a human mission to Mars will inspire generations to believe that all things are possible, anything can be achieved," stated the Mars One mission.
Richards hopes that the Helena Payload project will be able to provide breathable air to the first human settlers on Mars. He explains that the project will use electricity from solar panels, which will split water into hydrogen and oxygen. The oxygen can then be inhaled by humans to survive on the Red Planet.
Andre Van Vulpen, an engineering student at the University of Western Australia, who is also the co-lead of the project, suggests that the Helena Payload will become the first ever example of a life-supporting device on Mars.
"Our experiment will hopefully pave the way to ensure the survival of the elected astronauts on the Red Planet as we attempt to produce oxygen from Martian resources," said Van Vulpen.
The students of the latest project suggest that the simplicity of the Helena Payload sets it apart from competitors in the international competition. The researchers of the Helena Payload believe that it is a vital project since it will aim to support human life on Mars and the technology behind the device is very simple.
The winner of the international competition will be announced on Jan. 5, 2015. The winning device will fly to Mars as part of the Mars One unmanned mission to the planet in 2018.