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New publication: Prospecting in-situ resources for future crewed missions to Mars

News from Jul 04, 2024

An international team of researchers led by Dr. Christoph Gross from the Planetary Sciences and Remote Sensing group at Freie Universität Berlin has published an article that focuses on the exploration and use of resources on Mars to support future astronaut teams on the Red Planet. The article was published in the journal Acta Astronautica and can be accessed via this link.


The installation of planetary and lunar human outposts might be an important step for future solar system exploration by both public space agencies and private companies. Humans living and working in these artificially created habitats will possibly depend, among other life support approaches, on bio-regenerative life support systems to produce and recycle oxygen and water, and to produce food. A variety of natural resources suitable life support can be readily found on Mars, and to a lesser extent on the Moon. Instead of launching all resources (e.g., water, propellant, food and other materials) from Earth, it could potentially be much more cost effective to send automated machinery to harvest resources from the Martian surface and atmosphere in preparation for the arrival of humans. The exploration of these natural resource deposits, the concentration of the raw materials contained in them, and the feasibility of mining and refinement are open questions that require further consideration. Here we address the concept of harvesting resources in situ by reviewing the potential of several large deposits of hydrated minerals found on the surface of Mars thanks to previous orbital detections. We also present estimates of water volumes potentially retrievable from specific deposits and describe additional uses of the hydrated minerals for example as fertilizer for food production.

Gross, C., Al-Samir, M., Bishop, J.L., Poulet, F., Postberg, F., Schubert, D. (2024). Prospecting in-situ resources for future crewed missions to Mars. Acta Astronautica, Volume 223, Pages 15-24, ISSN 0094-5765, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.actaastro.2024.07.003.

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