Sending humans to Mars involves deep space missions that could last months, but shipping material there is costly; the price of transporting 1kg on Earth increases by a factor of 100 on a Martian mission. If the ultimate goal is to establish a long-term base on Mars, we’ll need make use of materials found on humanity’s greatest ever voyage.
Nasa has a target to send humans to Mars by the 2030s. Since 2012, the space agency has dedicated a branch of its research to what it calls In Situ Resource Utilisation (ISRU), with researchers working to find the best ways to produce one of the most crucial resources for space travel – rocket fuel.
Paul van Susante, senior lecturer in engineering at Michigan Tech University, has studied how to mine these resources on our neighbouring planet.
Space mining, on any target or destination such as asteroids, moon or Mars, provides leverage.