Astronauts are finding ways to make the best of the resources available on Mars and make the harsh Martian environment suitable for the human settlements in future. But now, a team of scientists from the Washington University in St. Louis have joined them with a technology that can convert Martian salt water into oxygen.

Roma B. and Raymond H. Wittcoff Distinguished University Professor Vijay Ramani led the research team that has developed a system called brine electrolyzer, which does not require pure water to extract oxygen. Ramani has his specialisations in energy, environment and chemical engineering.

The research team has tested the technology at -33 degrees Fahrenheit, which is similar to the Martian temperature.

According to Ramani, the system can extract both oxygen and hydrogen from the briny water of Mars, without heating the source of water.

“Our Martian brine electrolyzer radically changes the logistical calculus of missions to Mars and beyond,” Ramani said in a statement.

“This technology is equally useful on Earth where it opens up the oceans as a viable oxygen and fuel source,” he added.

On November 30, the findings of the research team was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences journal.

Astronauts have time and again said that the Red Planet has frozen salty water underneath its surface. No human can drink salty water but now with the technology that breaks it down into oxygen and hydrogen using electricity, the salty water can also be used wisely.

“A system that can work with ‘sub-optimal’ or salty water, such as the technology demonstrated by Ramani’s team, can significantly enhance the economic value proposition of water electrolyzers everywhere—even right here on planet Earth,” the statement read further.