Space agencies and private companies already have advanced plans to send humans to Mars in the next few years—ultimately establishing settlements there. And with a growing number of discoveries of Earth-like planets around nearby stars, long-distance space travel has never seemed more exciting.
However, it isn’t easy for humans to survive in space for sustained periods of time. One of the main challenges with long-distance space flight is transporting enough oxygen for astronauts to breathe and enough fuel to power complex electronics. Sadly, there’s only little oxygen available in space and the great distances make it hard to do quick refills.
But now a new study, published in Nature Communications, shows that it is possible to produce hydrogen (for fuel) and oxygen (for life) from water alone using a semiconductor material and sunlight (or star light) in zero gravity—making sustained space travel a real possibility.