Operations to Support Human Mars Missions
Brian M. Frankie, P.E., Frank E. Tarzian, Scott Lowther
Pioneer Astronautics, 445 Union Blvd. #125, Lakewood, CO 80228
Trevor Wende, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA
Water, both as a source of hydrogen and for life support, will be one of the most valuable commodities for Martian operations. Large quantities of water are available as ice at the Martian poles, but access to these sources will be restricted by the necessarily complex transport, mining, and solids handling infrastructure that is required. Drilling for subsurface liquid aquifers may provide a cost effective alternative large scale supply of water, will enable bases to access geothermal power, and will also be of considerable scientific interest. Although there is little data on the depth of Martian aquifers, it is expected that large amounts of water can be found at depths between 1 and 5 km. Terrestrial drilling operations reaching this depth are massive, power intensive industrial efforts, but some of the latest technological advances hold promise to reduce the equipment and power requirements to a level that would be feasible for a Martian drilling operation. This paper outlines the technical design of a proposed low mass Martian drilling mission capable of reaching depths of more than 1 km.