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Atmospheric Capture On Mars (and Processing)The ultimate destination of NASA's human exploration program is Mars. In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) is a key technology required to enable such missions, as first proposed by Prof. Robert Ash in 1976. This presentation will review progress in the systems required to produce rocket propellant, oxygen, and other consumables on Mars using the carbon dioxide atmosphere and other potential resources. For many years, NASA, commercial companies, and academia have been developing, and demonstrating techniques to capture and purify Martian atmospheric gases for their utilization for the production of hydrocarbons, oxygen, and water in ISRU systems. Other gases will be required to be separated from Martian atmospheric gases to provide pure CO2 for processing elements. Significant progress has been demonstrated in CO2 collection via adsorption by molecular sieves, freezing, and direct compression. Early stage work in adsorption in Ionic Liquids followed by electrolysis to oxygen is also underway. In addition, other Martian gases, such as nitrogen and argon, occur in concentrations high enough to be useful as buffer gas and could be captured as well. Gas separation requirements include, but are not limited to the selective separation of: (1) methane and water from unreacted carbon oxides (CO2-CO) and hydrogen typical of a Sabatier-type process, (2) carbon oxides and water from unreacted hydrogen from a Reverse Water-Gas Shift process, and (3) carbon oxides from oxygen from a trash/waste processing reaction.
Document ID
Document Type
Muscatello, Tony (NASA Kennedy Space Center Cocoa Beach, FL United States)
Date Acquired
March 1, 2017
Publication Date
February 27, 2017
Subject Category
Propellants and Fuels
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
The Technology and Future of In-Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) Seminar(Orlando, FL)
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 460421.04.06.04
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
propellant production
hydrocarbon fuel production
in situ resource utilization
oxygen production and recovery

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