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Atmospheric Mining in the Outer Solar System:Atmospheric mining in the outer solar system has been investigated as a means of fuel production for high energy propulsion and power. Fusion fuels such as Helium 3 (3He) and hydrogen can be wrested from the atmospheres of Uranus and Neptune and either returned to Earth or used in-situ for energy production. Helium 3 and hydrogen (deuterium, etc.) were the primary gases of interest with hydrogen being the primary propellant for nuclear thermal solid core and gas core rocket-based atmospheric flight. A series of analyses were undertaken to investigate resource capturing aspects of atmospheric mining in the outer solar system. This included the gas capturing rate, storage options, and different methods of direct use of the captured gases. Additional supporting analyses were conducted to illuminate vehicle sizing and orbital transportation issues. While capturing 3He, large amounts of hydrogen and 4He are produced. With these two additional gases, the potential for fueling small and large fleets of additional exploration and exploitation vehicles exists. Additional aerospacecraft or other aerial vehicles (UAVs, balloons, rockets, etc.) could fly through the outer planet atmospheres, for global weather observations, localized storm or other disturbance investigations, wind speed measurements, polar observations, etc. Deep-diving aircraft (built with the strength to withstand many atmospheres of pressure) powered by the excess hydrogen or helium 4 may be designed to probe the higher density regions of the gas giants. Outer planet atmospheric properties, atmospheric storm data, and mission planning for future outer planet UAVs are presented.
Document ID
Acquisition Source
Glenn Research Center
Document Type
Conference Paper
Palaszewski, Bryan A.
(NASA Glenn Research Center Cleveland, OH United States)
Date Acquired
December 16, 2014
Publication Date
July 28, 2014
Subject Category
Spacecraft Propulsion And Power
Propellants And Fuels
Report/Patent Number
Meeting Information
Meeting: AIAA Joint Propulsion Conference
Location: Cleveland, OH
Country: United States
Start Date: July 28, 2014
End Date: July 30, 2014
Sponsors: American Inst. of Aeronautics and Astronautics, Society of Automotive Engineers, Inc., American Society of Mechanical Engineers, American Society for Electrical Engineers
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 699959.
Distribution Limits
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.
planetary exploration
in-situ resource utilization (ISRU)
mission planning
Atmoshperic Mining
mission analyses
uninhabited aerial vehicle
rocket propulsion
helium 3
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