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Ore refining plans for Mars?

Posted by: quanthasaquality - Thu Sep 22, 2011 6:16 am
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Ore refining plans for Mars? 
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Post Ore refining plans for Mars?   Posted on: Thu Sep 22, 2011 6:16 am
Mars lacks the extensive ore exploration of Earth, the large market size of Earth, the oceans, railroads and roads for transportation on Earth. Therefore, it would be desirable to use more expensive and less efficient ore refining methods, that use easier to find materials and can utilize lower quality ores than Earth.

Would carbochlorination and vacuum distillation be on NASA's mind for refining low grade ore? Would the FFC process be in mind? Would NASA try to use the Bayer process and Hall Herout process?


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Post Re: Ore refining plans for Mars?   Posted on: Fri Sep 23, 2011 5:16 pm
The only reason I can see to go mining on Mars is if you need the minerals for building a colony. Shipping ore from Mars to Earth is always going to be more expensive than getting it from a near-Earth asteroid or even the asteroid belt, due to the gravity well that Mars forms. Also we're not out of ore yet on Earth, and if we are, our trash heaps will probably be easier to mine than Mars. So, you're building a colony? What's your scenario?

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Post Re: Ore refining plans for Mars?   Posted on: Fri Sep 23, 2011 6:30 pm
quanthasaquality wrote:
Mars lacks the extensive ore exploration of Earth, the large market size of Earth, the oceans, railroads and roads for transportation on Earth. Therefore, it would be desirable to use more expensive and less efficient ore refining methods, that use easier to find materials and can utilize lower quality ores than Earth.

Seeking out poor ores and using them would only be workable if you have a lot of power to spend on that; since power is mass that has to be flown there, that is unlikely.

Rather, the most effective 'mining' process may be the same as how humans acquired nickel and iron before we knew how to mine and smelt their ores: from meteorites.

Over the relatively tiny area that the rovers have explored we've already found metallic metorites sitting on the surface. With Mars' lack of surface water, thin atmosphere, and no natives to have taken the easy pickings, there are likely to be a lot of easy to acquire metal deposits of high purity spread over the planet. We could survey for them from orbit and using UAVs before anyone arrives. There have already been proposals for missions that drop UAVs into the atmosphere.

I hope it's a problem worth investigating in the next decade.


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Post Re: Ore refining plans for Mars?   Posted on: Fri Sep 30, 2011 1:36 am
Ben wrote:
Seeking out poor ores and using them would only be workable if you have a lot of power to spend on that; since power is mass that has to be flown there, that is unlikely.


Nuclear reactor? NASA also has light weight solar panels developed for probes. If you don't care how much panels cost, they will do. Might be limited to just iron, maybe aluminum, but that might be good enough. Mars' soil is a little over 10% iron.


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