An AI robot uses a meteorite from Mars to help create oxygen from water

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A robot uses meteorite extract from Mars to help create oxygen from water, combining the powers of chemical discovery with artificial intelligence to explore and repopulate the Red Planet.

Automated testing increases the possibility of sustaining future manned space missions, According to the paper Published on Monday Nature collection. The authors estimate that it would take 2,000 years of human labor to achieve the same result through trial and error.

The AI ​​robot used rock samples to create a catalyst – a substance that speeds up chemical reactions – to create oxygen from water. The work by a multidisciplinary team from the University of Science and Technology of China in the eastern city of Hefei taps into the rapidly growing interest in space colonization and exploitation of extraterrestrial resources.

„The biggest implication is that an AI-guided robot can produce useful chemicals with unknown materials,” said co-author Professor Jun Jiang. Nature collection Paper. „My dream is to send many robots to the moon first, and use local resources to start making chemicals and materials that humans need.”

„There is no more important resource than breathing oxygen,” said Charles Cagel, professor of astrophysics at the University of Edinburgh, who was not involved in the research. „This is an amazing example of how we can send robots to Mars and extract minerals that promote oxygen production from the abundant Martian ice, making it possible to create a permanent self-sustaining settlement.”

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The AI ​​robot used rock samples to create a catalyst – a substance that speeds up chemical reactions – to create oxygen from water. © NASA/Cover Images/Reuters

The researchers tasked their robot with making materials capable of producing oxygen from water sources found by previous research on Mars. The team provided five different meteorite samples to the autochemist to design a catalyst.

In less than six weeks, the robot analyzed 243 experimental data sets and nearly 30,000 theoretical simulations to select and synthesize a possible six-metal catalyst from 3,764,376 possible formulations. Researchers successfully conducted the experiment in minus 37C Martian temperatures. By setting up and controlling similar laboratories in three Chinese cities hundreds of kilometers apart, they have demonstrated that this operation can be operated remotely.

A video accompanying the new paper shows AI chemistry Shuttle alone Between workstations must produce the necessary materials to create oxygen. This scene has echoes of the 1972 film Silent RunningA robot named Dewey is involved in this The last remnants of Earth’s life-giving forests Pain deep in a capsule.

Countries like China and the US are showing great interest in both AI and space science. SpaceX founder Elon Musk has long-term plans for a trip to Mars.

But there are major obstacles to colonizing other planetary bodies. Remote AI labs and manufacturing require high processing capacity and significant computing power, either in-situ or off-planet. For Mars, the set-ups must be resilient to higher levels of radiation than would penetrate Earth’s atmosphere.

However, Martian rock research has raised a number of interesting possibilities, said planetary expert Dr Stephen Thompson of UK particle accelerator Diamond Light Source. The AI ​​lab will serve as an interstellar „refueling station” for spacecraft by capturing hydrogen left over after extracting oxygen from water.

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The paper marks another advance in the fast-growing field of using AI to discover objects, Thompson added.

„AI is making tremendous strides because it can process large amounts of data,” Thompson said. „It’s very efficient at identifying new things, which would take humans years and years.”

The combination of research in chemistry, robotics and software design was „really cool,” said Mark Symes, professor of electrochemistry and electrochemical technology at the University of Glasgow.

„If we’re going to colonize Mars that’s what we’re going to need — all the fields,” said Simes, who wrote a separate commentary for the study. Nature collection. „Wherever we live we’re going to need materials – we’re going to get them through chemistry.”

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