SMART control of the Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment and implications for support of crewed Mars exploration missions
Forrest Meyen, PhD Candidate, Man Vehicle Laboratory
As humankind expands its footprint in the solar system, it is increasingly important to make use of Earth-independent resources to make these missions economically feasible and sustainable. In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU), the science of ‘living off the land’, unlocks potential destinations by harvesting local resources and significantly reducing the amount of resources that need to be launched from Earth. Carbon dioxide is an example of a planetary resource that comprises nearly 96% of the Martian atmosphere, and can be utilized to produce oxygen for propulsion and life support. The Mars Oxygen ISRU Experiment (MOXIE) is a payload being developed by MIT and NASA JPL for the Mars 2020 mission. MOXIE will be the first demonstration of oxygen production from the Martian atmosphere. MOXIE will prove the solid oxide electrolysis (SOXE) technology needed for supplying oxidizer for a Mars Ascent Vehicle to enable a human expedition to Mars in the 2030s. Rigorous characterization of the SOXE cells was used to create a multi-domain physical system model of MOXIE called SimSitu. This model was used to develop the Safe Margin Active Reduction Tracking (SMART) control algorithm to safely maximize oxygen production for MOXIE. The combined SimSitu and SMART control model serves as a basis for trade studies of an atmospheric ISRU system to support a crewed Mars mission.