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Going to Mars is (relatively) easy; entrance behind is where it gets tricky

Going to Mars is (relatively) easy; entrance behind is where it gets tricky

Elon Musk is proposing a ton of brazen things to get to Mars before a 2020s are over. But maybe a many distinguished underline of his devise is a simplest. He’s not usually promulgation people to Mars; he’s formulation on bringing them back.

At this point, each tour to Mars has been a one-way trip. NASA is usually usually now formulation a corsair for a 2020 launch that will accumulate samples for lapse to Earth—how we’re going to get a tiny collection of samples behind hasn’t nonetheless been specified. By contrast, Musk intends to lapse everything: a people, a ship, and presumably any souvenirs that transparent customs. That goal is going to need radically rethinking the approach.

One of a pivotal things that will have to change is what a hardware does once it gets there. So far, all a apparatus has been designed to representation a chemistry that’s benefaction (though that will change on a 2020 rover—we’ll have some-more on that in an arriving story). Musk’s devise envisions formulating a chemical bureau on a red planet, one that creates all a fuel indispensable to get behind off a aspect and lapse a boat to Earth.

The elementary chemistry of making fuel is simple. The hurdles of doing it on Mars are rather profound.

A recipe for methane

The engines of a Interplanetary Transport System are being designed to bake a fuel—methane—with Mars in mind. While there have been indications that there are methane sources on a Red Planet, readings of a atmosphere done by a Curiosity corsair prove that whatever’s producing them is haphazard and ephemeral. All indications are that a gas doesn’t tarry prolonged in a atmosphere, either, so harvesting a gas is out of a question. That means fuel has to be done from mixture that are benefaction and easy to get at. That’s been suspicion by as partial of a routine of selecting methane in a initial place.

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