Create fuel on Mars to launch rockets

Carbon dioxide (abundantly present in the Martian atmosphere), the Sun, water ice and two microbes imported from Earth: this extremely simple cocktail would be enough to create a fuel on the Red Planet that would make it possible for it to circulate there. . In any case, it is the idea developed by engineers from the Georgian Institute of Technology who propose it in a publication in the journal. nature communication. Still it faces many hurdles but the concept is worth studying because the cost of transporting fuel from Earth to Mars is high.

reduce start-up costs

It is not yet known when the first astronauts will set foot on Mars. Projects abound and the eccentric Elon Musk plans to send hundreds of thousands of settlers there by the end of the decade! More appropriately, various space agencies are deploying less ambitious and longer duration projects. Regardless, Mars remains a major target for years to come. It’s good to go there, it’s even better to come back… That would require being able to launch rockets from Mars to Earth. But the star is nearly devoid of the resources needed to manufacture the classic rocket propellant made of methane and liquid oxygen (LOX). It would therefore be necessary to have sufficient reserves on the first flights, but the cost of such transport is enormous: about 30 tons of methane and about $8 billion for the LOX. Solutions for the creation of oxygen on Mars have already been considered, but they are still needed to deliver methane there. With financial support from NASA’s Innovative Advanced Concepts Program, the authors of this study propose a new concept that makes it possible to almost completely free ourselves from terrestrial resources.

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