Extraction of Light Gasses from Mars or its Moons

by Dave Vaniman, Los Alamos Natl Lab, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space


The light elements H, C, N, O and S are important for propellant production and life support in space. These light elements occur on Mars, and may occur on the martian moons Phobos and Deimos, in forms that would allow their collection as gases. The martian north pole apparently contains large amounts (&asyum;1013 MT) of H2O but has not been probed or sampled. The martian atmosphere is relatively well known; a MW-scale plant could produce 1000 MT of O2 per Earth-year by dissociation of CO2 from the martian atmosphere. A plant of about 3 MW power might produce 1000 MT of H2 plus O2 per Earth-year by extracting and dissociating water from the martian moons (if they are chondritic), but more data and process development are needed before such a plant can be considered with certainty.

Subject Headings: Power plants | Mars | Moon | Space life support systems | Hydro power | Resource management | Dissolved gases | Data collection | United States | Montana | Colorado

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