According to a new study published in Nature Synthesis, a robot chemist powered by AI could solve the challenge of delivering oxygen to humans on Mars before humans could. The researchers found that an AI robot could solve how to cook up oxygen in hours compared to the lifetime it would take humans.
The solution relies on what AI does best. As there are more than a million potential oxygen evolution reaction (OER) catalysts on Mars, there are just too many possibilities for humans to wade through. Communication with Earth would add another challenge: transmissions take up to 20 minutes to travel between Earth and Mars.
Rocket propellants and life support systems consume substantial amounts of oxygen, which cannot be replenished from the Martian atmosphere. However, AI robots could be tasked with supplying oxygen without human help. A robotic AI chemist, for example, attacking automated synthesis and intelligent optimization of catalysts for the oxygen evolution reaction from Martian meteorites, could be performed without humans. An AI chemist would take approximately six weeks to build a predictive model by learning from nearly 30,000 theoretical and 243 experimental datasets.