ESA plans to begin harvesting water on Mars in 2019

A new device that will be traveling to the Red Planet as part of the ESA’s ExoMars mission in 2018 could harvest water from beneath the surface—theoretically creating a moisture farm which could provide much needed H2O to humans once colonies are established there.
According to New Scientist and the Daily Mail, the unit is known as Habitat and will use salts to capture approximately five milliliters (0.16 fluid ounces) of water per day. It can hold as much as 25 ml of water at one time, and if successful, could be upscaled to increase production.
Habit is the brainchild of Javier Martin-Torre from Luleå University of Technology in Sweden, who a few months ago used data from NASA’s Curiosity rover to determine that liquid water pools beneath the surface of Mars at night and evaporates during the day.
Using their device, they hope to examine whether or not that water can be harvested and used by astronauts living on the Red Planet. Martin-Torre told New Scientist that, if successful, he hopes the  technology could “adapted to ‘water-farms’ for in-situ resource production.
“We will produce Martian liquid water on Mars, that could be used in the future exploration of Mars for astronauts and greenhouses,” he added, noting that the process used by Habit “requires no extra energy,” is self-sustained, and produces dry salts that can be utilized in the process.
ExoMars platform, lander expected to reach Mars in 2019
Habitat will be mounted onto a static lander and will also measure the temperature and relative humidity on Mars, according to New Scientist. By doubling as a weather station, it will help to develop models of the Martian atmosphere, and will also monitor seasonal dust levels.
The ESA’s ExoMars mission is currently scheduled to launch in May 2018, the Daily Mail said, and will also include a rover that will travel both across the surface of the Red Planet and drill to depth of two meters below the surface. It is scheduled to reach Mars in 2019.
Upon its arrival, the rover will exit the science platform on a ramp, at which time both units will begin their scientific operations. The platform is expected to monitor the planet’s climate, study the atmosphere, image the landing site, and analyze radiation for at least 12 Earth months.
“The surface science platform will serve as a long-lived stationary laboratory to monitor the local environment, which could include passing dust storms, lightning, and space weather effects,” ExoMars project scientist Jorge Vago told the UK newspaper. “At the same time, the rover will travel several kilometers to search for traces of past life below the surface. It’s a very powerful combination of instruments.”
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Feature Image: ESA

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