Obtaining resources on other planets allows a more efficient, economical and sustainable development in space, since shipments from Earth they are expensive and take a long time.
A team of researchers led by Professor Akbar Rhamdhani, from the University of Swinburne (Melbourne, Australia), recently published a study detailing a method for extracting metals from Mars.
Called carbothermic reduction, this process would take processed air, dirt, and sunlight on Mars to create metallic iron. It uses concentrated solar energy as a source of heat and carbon, which is produced by cooling CO gas, a by-product of oxygen production in the Martian atmosphere.
This is intended to method be combined with a future oxygen generating plant on the red planet, with the aim of jointly producing oxygen and iron alloys.
Obtaining resources on other planets pe It allows a more efficient, economical and sustainable development in space, since the launch of technology from Earth is expensive, takes a long time and is harmful to the environment, the specialists explain.
“We would like to develop a metal extraction process on Mars that actually uses resources ‘in situ’, without bringing reagents from Earth, to support further human mission and development on Mars”, stated Rhamdhani. “If you wanted to build something big on Mars without having to pay to launch everything from Earth (think big satellites, Mars colonies, refueling depots, and more), this could be a very worthwhile process.”
For his part, the director of Australia’s Space Industry and Technology Institute, Alan Duffy, stressed that his country “is committed to supporting NASA’s return to the Moon and reaching Mars with the Artemis program”, so they will need to use the resources of these places “for that to be feasible”.
“This work allows us to help NASA’s vision of its astronauts walking on the red planet a little easier,” concluded Duffy.