Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Mars Exploration News  




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



MARSDAILY
Ice mined on Mars could provide water for humans exploring space
by Sophia Casanova and Andrew Dempster for The Conversation
Sydney, Australia (The Conversation) Sep 19, 2017


A flattened map of the surface of Mars shows the location (red box) of the buried ice deposits in the Deuteronilus-Protonilus Mensae region. Image courtesy MOLA - NASA/JPL.

As humans spread out across the Earth, the locations of new colonies were driven by the accessibility of resources: not only food and water, but also arable land, forests and minerals.

Access to such resources remains important as the economy moves into space. Here, water has emerged as the pre-eminent resource to exploit first. The question then becomes, from where will we extract the water? Along with the Moon and near Earth asteroids as potential sources, Mars is an important candidate.

Eyes on Mars
Mars is the focus for human settlement in space, largely due to Elon Musk's Space X, Mars One and NASA's activities in this regard. The NASA human landing site selection committee proposed 47 potential sites for a human occupied base on Mars. They considered not only scientific regions of interest but also "resource regions of interest" - where there is accessible water.

A number of conditions need to be met for an exploration zone to be considered useful for prospecting for water. Water needs to be accessible, located near the surface, and of sufficient size and concentration to meet the user needs. For operational reasons the Mars water site also needs to be located with a latitude less than 50 . This ruled out the previously identified large surface ice deposits in the high latitude polar regions of Mars.

Buried ice
The Protonilus - Deuteronilus Mensae region on Mars is located in the northern mid-latitudes of Mars (~8 E and 60 E 38N and 50 N).

This region is host to numerous land forms which appear to contain large buried ice deposits, hundreds of meters thick and several kilometres wide.

If the ice is preserved as we believe, these features would represent a significant resource easily capable of satisfying the requirements for a human base. It is for this reason that three exploration zones have been proposed in the region.

At the low pressures in the Martian atmosphere, and the temperatures in equatorial regions, ice can "sublime" directly from the solid to gas state (evaporation being the transition from water to gas). The features we are observing protect ice under a layer of debris.

Because of this, it is not possible to evaluate directly the quantity of ice present. Instead we must rely on data collected by orbital spacecraft to work out the geological properties and potential water resources available.

If we were able to make measurements on the planet itself (as we can usually do on Earth), things would be much clearer. However, there have been no landed rover missions to this region of Mars, so we are reliant on remotely sensed data.

There is still a lot to be learned from data collected by satellites orbiting Mars. These give us high resolution imagery of the surface, along with insight into the geological properties of these features.

We can make informed assessments about how much water there is, and where it is distributed, as well as about what lies over it (which will have to either be drilled through or excavated to reach the water). These interpretations can be used to guide future exploration activities, and assist equipment design and mine planning operations.

Rover missions could provide more certainty but planning such a mission will not occur until after site selection, and insight into the feasibility of mining ice deposits on Mars to support human missions to the Red Planet.

Other mining in space
It's not only Mars which is being investigated as a potential source of water in space. The Moon with its supply of polar water ice is being considered as a potential resource to supply proposed lunar bases or propellant for Mars missions. The Lunar Resource Prospector mission set to launch in the early 2020s will help us better understand the resource potential of the Moon.

Asteroid mining companies such as Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources are looking to exploit water stored in near Earth asteroids and are working towards exploratory missions in the near future.

There are a large number of technical issues that must be navigated before such an ambitious mining enterprise is considered low-risk enough to be feasible. These are challenging, but not insurmountable. A significant international effort is afoot to solve the problems with several companies, the major space agencies and the government of Luxembourg committed to the task.

Representatives from these stakeholder groups will be in Australia to discuss these issues at the Off-Earth Mining Forum to be held in Sydney, September 20-21, 2017.

MARSDAILY
Tributes to wetter times on Mars
Paris (ESA) Jul 14, 2017
A dried-out river valley with numerous tributaries is seen in this recent view of the Red Planet captured by ESA's Mars Express. This section of the Libya Montes region, which sits on the equator at the boundary of the southern highlands and northern lowlands, was imaged on 21 February 2017 by the spacecraft's high-resolution stereo camera. The Libya Montes highlands mountains, one of the ... read more

Related Links
University of New South Wales
Mars News and Information at MarsDaily.com
Lunar Dreams and more

Thanks for being here;
We need your help. The SpaceDaily news network continues to grow but revenues have never been harder to maintain.

With the rise of Ad Blockers, and Facebook - our traditional revenue sources via quality network advertising continues to decline. And unlike so many other news sites, we don't have a paywall - with those annoying usernames and passwords.

Our news coverage takes time and effort to publish 365 days a year.

If you find our news sites informative and useful then please consider becoming a regular supporter or for now make a one off contribution.

SpaceDaily Contributor
$5 Billed Once


credit card or paypal
SpaceDaily Monthly Supporter
$5 Billed Monthly


paypal only

Comment using your Disqus, Facebook, Google or Twitter login.

Share this article via these popular social media networks
del.icio.usdel.icio.us DiggDigg RedditReddit GoogleGoogle

MARSDAILY
Researchers create first global map of water in moon's soil

Call For Ideas For Research On The Deep Space Gateway

Analysis of a 'rusty' lunar rock suggests the moon's interior is dry

Roscosmos Approves Luna-25 Space Station Model in Moon Exploration Project

MARSDAILY
Spacecraft passes docking test

China, Russia to Have Smooth Space Cooperation, Says Expert

Kuaizhou-11 to send six satellites into space

Russia, China May Sign 5-Year Agreement on Joint Space Exploration

MARSDAILY
NASA-funded research at USC provides evidence of ground-ice on asteroids

Radar Reveals Two Moons Orbiting Asteroid Florence

Sling-shot show for NASA spacecraft over Australia

NASA's Asteroid-Bound Spacecraft to Slingshot Past Earth

MARSDAILY
Hibernation Over, New Horizons Continues Kuiper Belt Cruise

Pluto features given first official names

Jupiter's Auroras Present a Powerful Mystery

New Horizons Files Flight Plan for 2019 Flyby

MARSDAILY
Cassini Makes its 'Goodbye Kiss' Flyby of Titan

Cassini Spacecraft Demise Is Bittersweet for PSI's Hansen

Cassini readies final plunge into Saturn

CU Boulder Scientists Ready for Cassini Mission to Saturn Grand Finale

MARSDAILY
Team gathers unprecedented data on atmosphere's organic chemistry

Who is the chief culprit of dust concentrations over East Asia?

Boeing to Design and Build Seven Medium Earth Orbit Satellites for SES

Airbus to reshape Earth observation market with its Pleiades Neo constellation

MARSDAILY
Diet tracker in space

Three astronauts blast off for five-month ISS mission

Crewed Missions Beyond LEO

Voyager Spacecraft: 40 Years of Solar System Discoveries

MARSDAILY
Hubble observes pitch black planet

The return of the comet-like exoplanet

Does the Organic Material of Comets Predate our Solar System?

X-rays Reveal Temperament of Possible Planet-hosting Stars




Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News






The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2017 - Space Media Network. All websites are published in Australia and are solely subject to Australian law and governed by Fair Use principals for news reporting and research purposes. AFP, UPI and IANS news wire stories are copyright Agence France-Presse, United Press International and Indo-Asia News Service. ESA news reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. All articles labeled "by Staff Writers" include reports supplied to Space Media Network by industry news wires, PR agencies, corporate press officers and the like. Such articles are individually curated and edited by Space Media Network staff on the basis of the report's information value to our industry and professional readership. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space Media Network on any Web page published or hosted by Space Media Network. Privacy Statement