ASP projects


The manned exploration of Mars is a very ambitious goal that requires a large amount of resources such as the oxygen needed to breath and fuel the Mars Ascend Vehicle. To overcome these limitations, ISRU practices come useful. We know that carbon dioxide constitutes about 96% of Martian atmosphere and it is the candidate for oxygen extraction through a Solid Oxide Electrolysis reaction. The MOXIE demonstrator proved this concept on board of the Perseverance Rover in April 2021. The full-scale device, L-MOXIE, will be almost 200 times larger and the power generation system must be totally redesigned. In this work we evaluate the power requirements of L-MOXIE leveraging a process simulation developed in Aspen Hysys, obtaining a consumption of 22.8 kW. Our design effort focuses on the generation, transmission and storage of electric energy, as well as oxygen handling and storage. We employ a forcing technique based on C-K theory pillars to broaden the spectrum of options retrieved from the literature review and from the partial solutions we build a morphological chart. Three concepts are then generated based on nuclear, grounded solar, and orbiting photovoltaic power generation systems. A trade-off analysis is performed to assess them, and the orbiting photovoltaic concept is excluded due to the low scores obtained in the MAUA. The feasibility analysis of the two concepts gives an overall payload of 8253 kg for the nuclear and 4471 kg for the solar, including the batteries.

Principal Academic Tutor:
Laura Mainini (Politecnico di Torino)

Academic Tutors:
Paolo Maggiore (Politecnico di Torino)
Franco Bernelli Zazzera (Politecnico di Milano)

External Tutor:
Jeffrey Hoffman, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, MIT
Eric Hinterman, Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, MIT