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Immigration to and living on Mars have long been depicted in science fiction. But before that dream turns into reality, there is a hurdle humans have to overcome—the lack of chemicals such as oxygen essential for long-term survival on the planet. However, the recent discovery of water activity on Mars is promising.
Scientists are now exploring the possibility of decomposing water to produce oxygen through electrochemical water oxidation driven by solar power with the help of oxygen evolution reaction (OER) catalysts. The challenge is to find a way to synthesize these catalysts in situ using materials on Mars, instead of transporting them from the Earth, which is costly.
To tackle this problem, a team led by Prof. Luo Yi, Prof. Jiang Jun, and Prof. Shang Weiwei from the University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) of the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS), recently made it possible to synthesize and optimize OER catalysts automatically from Martian meteorites with their robotic artificial intelligence (AI)-chemist.