Ice Mined on Mars Could Provide Water for Humans Exploring Space
As humans spread out across the Earth, the locations of new colonies were driven by the accessibility of resources: not only food and water, but also arable land, forests, and minerals.
Access to such resources remains important as the economy moves into space. Here, water has emerged as the pre-eminent resource to exploit first.
The question then becomes, from where will we extract the water? Along with the Moon and near Earth asteroids as potential sources, Mars is an important candidate.
EYES ON MARS
Mars is the focus for human settlement in space, largely due to Elon Musk’s SpaceX, Mars One, and NASA’s activities in this regard.
The NASA human landing site selection committee proposed 47 potential sites for a human occupied base on Mars. They considered not only scientific regions of interest but also “resource regions of interest” — where there is accessible water.
A number of conditions need to be met for an exploration zone to be considered useful for prospecting for water. Water needs to be accessible, located near the surface, and of sufficient size and concentration to meet the user needs.
For operational reasons the Mars water site also needs to be located with a latitude less than 50°. This ruled out the previously identified large surface ice deposits in the high latitude polar regions of Mars.
The Protonilus-Deuteronilus Mensae region on Mars is located in the northern mid-latitudes of Mars (~8°E and 60°E 38N and 50°N).