Implications for Resource Utilization on Mars: Recent Discoveries and Hypotheses

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F. Bernadini et al. (2018), JBIS, 71, pp.186-189

Refcode: 2018.71.186
Keywords: Water ice, ISRU (in situ resource utilization), Human landing site, Propellant production, Debris -overed glaciers

Mars keeps proving to be the best candidate for the next step in human exploration: it is a complex frozen planet that offers innumerable research opportunities as well as all the raw materials to sustain a permanent presence on its surface. In addition, pictures obtained from orbiting spacecraft, as well as those from robotic surface explorers, show places worth seeing with human eyes, with a beauty and a complexity that needs to be appreciated by an inquiring and appreciative mind. While plans for exploring Mars have been postponed for years, we are now living in a very fortunate moment of human history in which we can look seriously at a celestial body as a place in which to live using local resources, both to sustain life and to produce energy, propellants and tools. The enabling ingredient in this scenario is the availability of water, and recent discoveries have provided new options that are defining a new paradigm for human exploration. After years of scientific exploration, it is indeed now time for prospecting and the first extractions of precious resources on which to base the future of human exploration of Mars: it is no longer merely visionary thinking, but a true practical possibility that is changing the rules of the game dictated so long ago.

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