Published on January 30th, 20140
How do you get Water on the Moon and Oxygen on Mars? NASA
NASA is planning a missions to demonstrate how to make water on the moon and how to produced oxygen on Mars for future manned missions to these celestial objects.
The initiative is part of a space exploration strategy based on the use of local resources to produce rocket fuel needed to return to Earth.
Studies have show that the best option for future manned expeditions to Mars - also missions to collect samples of rocks - require what is known as “in-situ resource utilization”, or ISRU, in order to save the huge costs of sending from Earth everything necessary for the expedition.
As explained by Paul Spudis, lunar geology specialist in Lunar Planetary Institute in Houston and the U.S., reducing the quantities of consumables such as water, air, fuel, means that you can add a pound of intelligent mass — an experiment, a computer, something designed to accomplish some job or give us some capability. ISRU enables just that - balance tilting in favor of “smart” cargo.
First ISRU mission is planned for 2018, when NASA plans to launch a mission called the Resource Prospector, involving a lunar rover equipped with tools to seek hydrogen, collect lunar soil samples, to heat them and then seek to identify the presence water vapor and other volatile substances. Water vapor can be re-condensed form liquid to water.
A second experiment by ISRU is going to be tested aboard NASA’s next Mars rover, whose launch is planned for 2020. The device would extract carbon dioxide from the atmosphere of the planet, to remove by filtering, dust and other particles and thus prepare the purified carbon dioxide in order to obtain oxygen.
“The importance of the Resource Prospector on Mars (missions in 2020) is that to break that cycle, the paradigm”, said Gerald Sanders, who oversees the Johnson Space Center ISRU programs in Houston. “If we succeed, we can begin to think seriously about changing the way we approach space exploration”.
Source: Discovery News