NASA is planning to land a crew on the Moon by 2024, and then onward to Mars, possibly in the 2030s. One day, we will have permanently crewed bases on both worlds. Unlike the initial short-stay visits, long-term bases will have to be self sufficient in as many essentials as possible.
A lot of research has gone into preparing for In Situ Resource Utilization (ISRU) that could help to build and sustain a lunar base. Now, similar ideas for Mars are catching up, with a new study, published in PNAS, suggesting a way to use the brine (salty water) found on Mars to make breathable air and fuel.
“Living off the land” will be even more important on Mars than on the Moon, because Mars is much further away – making transport costs (and time) correspondingly greater.
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