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If I wanted to live in a box on Mars to write my screenplay about living in a box on Mars, how many square meters of solar panels would I need to power a MOXIE-like CO2-to-O2 converter in order to breathe?

Teslarati's NASA’s next Mars rover will pave the way for humans includes the following passage:

MOXIE can only run for a few hours at a time, and only about once a month. (That’s because the system uses a full day’s worth of rover power each time it runs.) Humans use about 20 grams per hour of oxygen and MOXIE can only produce about half of that.

and links to

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    $\begingroup$ Why not live in a box in the atmosphere of Venus ? MOXIE would work far better there ! :) $\endgroup$
    – Cornelis
    Jan 29 '20 at 9:56
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    $\begingroup$ @Cornelisinspace "How could a MOXIE oxygen generator be adapted to work high in Venus' atmosphere, or on the surface?" sounds like an excellent new question! $\endgroup$
    – uhoh
    Jan 29 '20 at 10:46
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    $\begingroup$ I think i don't have enough knowledge to be specific enough in a question like that. But i agree it would be an interesting question, although might be hard to answer. $\endgroup$
    – Cornelis
    Jan 29 '20 at 11:48
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Doing the math:

Humans need about 20g per hour, MOXIE takes 300W to produce 12 grams of hour. So that's 25W for 1 gram/hour, or 500W per human. Solar irradiance is about 600W/m2 on Mars, but that's the peak daylight value. Averaging over a whole year and factoring in the panel efficiency, you'd expect somewhat closer to 100W/m2 of electric power on average, so 6 m2 of panel per person.

Of course, growing potato plants will also produce oxygen. You'd only need to pressurize the CO2 for that.

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  • $\begingroup$ FWIW The 1st reference in my answer contains power estimates for scaled-up MOXIE ISRU plants. I haven't compared them to your numbers. space.stackexchange.com/a/51615/6944 $\endgroup$ Apr 23 at 12:28
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting. That's not a particularly unachievable goal! $\endgroup$ Apr 23 at 13:03
  • $\begingroup$ @SpaceLawyer: Once you figure that humans produce about 100W of heat, pretty much all of which is generated by oxidation reactions, you already have a ballpark figure. $\endgroup$
    – MSalters
    Apr 23 at 13:47

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