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Some thoughts on Mercurian resourcesVirtually all scenarios on Solar System development ignore Mercury, but such inattention is probably undeserved. Once viable lunar and (probably) asteroidal facilities are established in the next century, Mercury warrants further investigation. Mercury's high solar energy density is a major potential advantage for space-based industries. Indeed, despite its higher gravity, Mercury is roughly twice as easy to leave as the Moon if the additional solar flux is taken into account. Moreover, with solar-driven technologies such as solar sails or electric propulsion, its depth in the Sun's gravity well is less important. Because Mercury is airless and almost certainly waterless, it will be an obvious place to export lunar technology, which will have been developed to deal with very similar conditions. Methods for extracting resources from anhydrous silicates will be particularly germane. Even without solar-powered propulsion, the discovery of low-delta-V access via multiple Venus and Earth encounters makes the planet easier to reach than had been thought. Technology developed for multi-year missions to asteroids and Mars should be readily adaptable to such Mercurian missions. Mercury will not be our first outpost in the Solar System. Nonetheless, as facilities are established in cis-Earth space, it probably merits attention as a next step for development.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Legacy CDMS
Document Type
Conference Paper
Gillett, Stephen L.
(Nevada Univ. Reno, NV, United States)
Date Acquired
September 6, 2013
Publication Date
January 1, 1991
Publication Information
Publication: Arizona Univ., Resources of Near-Earth Space: Abstracts
Subject Category
Lunar And Planetary Exploration
Accession Number
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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