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frontier in-situ resource utilization for enabling sustained human presence on marsThe currently known resources on Mars are massive, including extensive quantities of water and carbon dioxide and therefore carbon, hydrogen and oxygen for life support, fuels and plastics and much else. The regolith is replete with all manner of minerals. In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) applicable frontier technologies include robotics, machine intelligence, nanotechnology, synthetic biology, 3-D printing/additive manufacturing and autonomy. These technologies combined with the vast natural resources should enable serious, pre- and post-human arrival ISRU to greatly increase reliability and safety and reduce cost for human colonization of Mars. Various system-level transportation concepts employing Mars produced fuel would enable Mars resources to evolve into a primary center of trade for the inner solar system for eventually nearly everything required for space faring and colonization. Mars resources and their exploitation via extensive ISRU are the key to a viable, safe and affordable, human presence beyond Earth. The purpose of this paper is four-fold: 1) to highlight the latest discoveries of water, minerals, and other materials on Mars that reshape our thinking about the value and capabilities of Mars ISRU; 2) to summarize the previous literature on Mars ISRU processes, equipment, and approaches; 3) to point to frontier ISRU technologies and approaches that can lead to safe and affordable human missions to Mars; and 4) to suggest an implementation strategy whereby the ISRU elements are phased into the mission campaign over time to enable a sustainable and increasing human presence on Mars.
Document ID
20160005963
Document Type
Technical Memorandum (TM)
Authors
Moses, Robert W.
(NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Bushnell, Dennis M.
(NASA Langley Research Center Hampton, VA, United States)
Date Acquired
May 9, 2016
Publication Date
April 1, 2016
Subject Category
Space Processing
Lunar and Planetary Science and Exploration
Report/Patent Number
NF1676L-20756
L-20531
NASA/TM-2016-219182
Funding Number(s)
WBS: WBS 432938-09.01.07.01
Distribution Limits
Public
Copyright
Work of the US Gov. Public Use Permitted.

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