Author Topic: Mars as a Base for Asteroid Exploration and Mining  (Read 3757 times)

Offline su27k

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https://www.cfa.harvard.edu/news/mars-base-asteroid-exploration-and-mining

Mining the asteroids for resources like iron, precious metals, water, or other valuable species may someday become profitable. Mining will probably starting with Near Earth Objects (NEOs), asteroids whose paths cross the Earthís orbital path. In the long-term, however, mining will want to access the Main Belt of asteroids that orbit between Mars and Jupiter. Although NEOs are a lot closer to us, profitable mining entails balancing more than just the cost of traveling across a distance. The Main Belt asteroids contain about ten thousand times as much resources as do NEOs. Moreover, any asteroid mining operation must take into account the expense of the rendezvous - slowing the spacecraft down once it arrives - as well as the cost of shipping the ore back to a processing facility.

The cost (and weight) of the fuel needed to rendezvous is among the most critical parameters in the feasibility calculation. It is mostly determined by the parameter "delta-V," a measure of the kinematic requirement of accomplishing a spacecraft maneuver, and usually cited in units of kilometers per second. A rendezvous with an especially favorable NEO from a spacecraft in low-Earth orbit involves a delta-V of about four kilometers per second. Unfortunately, reaching asteroids in the Main Belt typically involves a delta-V of about seven kilometers per second. While that may not sound like a very big difference, the fuel requirements needed for maneuvers depend exponentially on delta-V with even small changes having a huge impact, leaving Main Belt asteroids energetically very difficult to reach from Earth.

CfA astronomers Martin Elvis, Jonathan McDowell, and past Harvard undergraduate Anthony Taylor have shown that Main Belt asteroid mining could be made more profitable if spacecraft were deployed from a station in an orbit similar to that of the Martian moon Phobos, which orbits about six thousand kilometers from Marsís surface, and which offers a lower delta-V to the Main Belt asteroids. Mars itself offers some added orbital advantages because unlike the Earth, whose orbit is nearly circular, Marsí orbital eccentricity and inclination also provide a lower delta-V path to the asteroids. The authors suggest two-burn and three-burn scenarios (referring to the number of rocket ignitions needed) to accomplish a rendezvous, and they develop a computer code to calculate the energetics for known asteroid orbital classes. The results show potentially very significant reductions to the costs of exploration. Whether or not a mission ultimately makes financial sense depends on many other factors, but the authors demonstrate that the concept of a launching and then returning to an operations center based in a Phobos-like orbit, or even on Phobos itself, is relatively convenient and advantageous. They add that profitable large-scale mining from Martian orbit could also lead to routine access to the Martian surface.



Paper: Phobos and Mars orbit as a base for asteroid exploration and mining

Quote from: Abstract
The number and total mass of high value near-Earth asteroids (NEOs) are limited. If space exploration and mining becomes profitable then at some point it will benefit from moving on to the far greater resources of the Main Belt Asteroids (MBAs). Most MBAs are energetically too hard to reach with present technology from low Earth orbit. An alternative is to use Mars orbit as a base from which to conduct MBA research, prospecting, and mining. We have developed PARC: Python Asteroid Rendezvous Code which uses a fast Lambert's problem solver and straightforward maneuver schemes to survey the delta-v necessary to rendezvous with any known asteroid from either Earth or Mars orbit given a specified launch date and time of flight. We used PARC to investigate whether Phobos-like orbits around Mars at altitudes of ∼9000 ​km, are more energetically favorable and useful locations from which to dispatch missions to MBAs. We find that they are. From a Phobos-like orbit, around 100,000 known MBAs have delta-v
4 ​km ​s−1 and some 340,000 have delta-v 5 ​km ​s−1, nearly a thousand times that of NEOs. Unsurprisingly, the most accessible MBAs have low inclinations (i ​< ​5 deg) and small semi-major axes (2.0 < a < 2.5 AU). Known MBAs are much larger than NEOs, so the total mass that is accessible is larger by ∼10,000 times the accessible mass in NEOs. As a result, a growing economy that utilizes space resources or large scale exploration missions will likely find Mars orbit convenient. The stable platform and modest gravity afforded by Phobos would make it a natural first choice. Once Mars orbit has a profitable economy, with high value trans-shipments, the Martian surface may also become an economically valuable outpost. This value may then stimulate settlement.

Offline Harry Cover

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Re: Mars as a Base for Asteroid Exploration and Mining
« Reply #1 on: 02/16/2023 05:49 pm »
Very interesting. There is a pretty clear path there:

- Earth surface - LEO - cislunar space,
BRANCHING
a) lunar surface
b) NEOs
c) Phobos BRANCHING again
- Mars surface
- main asteroid belt

Offline MickQ

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Re: Mars as a Base for Asteroid Exploration and Mining
« Reply #2 on: 04/26/2023 09:09 am »
Sounds like a no brainer to me.  Fly in/fly out to Phobos from Mars.  At end of shift drop down the well for r and r.  Phobos base is supplied from Mars with propellant, air, water etc until sources are found in the belt.  Other items come from Earth on ships that collect the mined resources to take back.

Offline TrevorMonty

Re: Mars as a Base for Asteroid Exploration and Mining
« Reply #3 on: 04/26/2023 11:30 am »
Phobos has abundant oxygen and may have water to allow for production of hydrolox fuel.
« Last Edit: 04/26/2023 11:31 am by TrevorMonty »

Online LMT

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Re: Mars as a Base for Asteroid Exploration and Mining
« Reply #4 on: 04/28/2023 03:50 pm »
Phobos has abundant oxygen and may have water to allow for production of hydrolox fuel.

"Deimos is hydrated."
« Last Edit: 04/28/2023 03:50 pm by LMT »

Online Zed_Noir

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Re: Mars as a Base for Asteroid Exploration and Mining
« Reply #5 on: 04/28/2023 04:49 pm »
Phobos has abundant oxygen and may have water to allow for production of hydrolox fuel.

"Deimos is hydrated."
The recent images taken of Deimos by the Emirates Hope orbiter seems to indicated a lack of volatile materials on Deimos.


Online LMT

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Re: Mars as a Base for Asteroid Exploration and Mining
« Reply #6 on: 04/28/2023 05:03 pm »
Phobos has abundant oxygen and may have water to allow for production of hydrolox fuel.

"Deimos is hydrated."

The recent images taken of Deimos by the Emirates Hope orbiter seems to indicated a lack of volatile materials on Deimos.

Notice what instruments can and can't see.  Secondhand stories clutter.
« Last Edit: 04/28/2023 05:04 pm by LMT »

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