Oxygen and Propellant Extraction from Martian Atmosphere: Feasibility Study of a Small Technological Demonstration Plant
The sustainability of Martian outposts development is strongly based on the capability of achieving a high level of autonomy both in terms of operations management and of resources availability. In situ production of consumables is a key point to allow humans to work and live on Mars avoiding or limiting the need for re-supplies of materials from Earth. Required consumables can be produced in situ exploiting the locally available resources, but also by means of green-houses and waste recycle systems. Dedicated robotic missions for in situ demonstration of this type of technologies are a fundamental step of the Martian In Situ Resources Utilization (ISRU) development roadmap. This paper is focused on the extraction of oxygen and fuels (e.g. methane) from the Martian atmosphere, and presents a feasibility study for a small technological demonstration plant.