WET MARS: plentiful, readily-available martian water and its implications

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Water and its major constituent, oxygen, in large specific quantities are essential for maintenance of human life. Providing them in adequate quantities is widely believed to be a major challenge for human Mars exploration and settlement. The Martian regolith isn't known to bear either water or hydrogen, the ice-rich Martian polar regions are thermally inhospitable, and the measured water content of Mars' thin atmosphere represents a layer of liquid water of average thickness only about 1% that of the Moon: {approximately}0.001 cm. Crucially, however, the atmospheric Martian water inventory is advected to everyplace on Mars by meteorological phenomena, so that ... continued below

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Hyde, R; Ishikawa, M; Nuckolls, J; Whitehead, J & Wood, L August 12, 1999.

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Water and its major constituent, oxygen, in large specific quantities are essential for maintenance of human life. Providing them in adequate quantities is widely believed to be a major challenge for human Mars exploration and settlement. The Martian regolith isn't known to bear either water or hydrogen, the ice-rich Martian polar regions are thermally inhospitable, and the measured water content of Mars' thin atmosphere represents a layer of liquid water of average thickness only about 1% that of the Moon: {approximately}0.001 cm. Crucially, however, the atmospheric Martian water inventory is advected to everyplace on Mars by meteorological phenomena, so that the few cubic kilometers of liquid water-equivalent in the atmosphere are available most anywhere when, merely for the effort of condensing it. Well-engineered apparatus deployed essentially anywhere on Mars can condense water from the atmosphere in daily quantities not much smaller than its own mass, rejecting into space from radiators deployed over the local terrain the water's heat-of-condensation and the heat from non-ideality of the equipment's operation. Thus, an optimized, photovoltaically-powered 0.3 ton water-condensing system could strip 40 tons of water each year from {approximately}10{sup 4} times this mass of thin, dry Martian air. Given a 480 set I{sub sp} of H{sub 2}-O{sub 2} propulsion systems exhausting into the 6 millibar Mars-surface atmosphere and the 5.0 km/s Martian gravity well, {ge}40 tons of water two-thirds converted into 5:1 O{sub 2}/H{sub 2} cryogenic fuel could support exploration and loft a crew-of-four and their 8-ton ascent vehicle into Earth-return trajectory. The remaining water and excess oxygen would suffice for half-open-cycle life support for a year's stay on Mars. A Mars Expedition thus needs to land only explorers, dehydrated food, habitation gear and unfueled exploration I Earth-return equipment - and a water/oxygen/fuel plant with embedded power supply which operates on Martian atmospheric water. All of the oxygen, water and propellants necessary for life-support, extensive exploration and Earth-return can be provided quite readily by the host planet. The most challenging technical problem with respect to human expeditions to Mars is that of escaping from Earth's deep, 11.2 km/s gravity well. Living on Mars, exploring it extensively and returning to Earth each are technically much less difficult, thanks in no small part to the effective ''wetness'' of Mars.

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1400 Kilobytes pages

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  • 2nd Annual International Conference of the Mars Society, Boulder, CO (US), 08/12/1999--08/15/1999

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  • Report No.: UCRL-JC-135329
  • Report No.: YN0100000
  • Grant Number: W-7405-ENG-48
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 12466
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc626549

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Reports, articles and other documents harvested from the Office of Scientific and Technical Information.

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  • August 12, 1999

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  • June 16, 2015, 7:43 a.m.

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  • March 30, 2016, 6:26 p.m.

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Hyde, R; Ishikawa, M; Nuckolls, J; Whitehead, J & Wood, L. WET MARS: plentiful, readily-available martian water and its implications, article, August 12, 1999; California. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc626549/: accessed December 15, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.