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Minerals are natural resources needed as raw material for setup and extension of settlements on Mars. From recent unmanned missions some valuable minerals have been found in the regolith, most of them by the Mössbauer spectrometer MIMOS II. The atmospheric dust contains minerals, which allows atmospheric mining.


Chemical formula: α-FeO(OH)

This mineral has been identified near the landing zones of the rovers Spirit and Opportunity, for example at "Columbia Hills". This mineral was probably created from iron under the influence of liquid water.


Chemical formula: α-Fe2O3

This mineral has been found at the landing zone of Opportunity.


Chemical formula: (Mg,Fe)2SiO4

This mineral has been found in Gusev Crater.


Calcium carbonate, magnesium, sodium, potassium, chloride and perchlorate have been found by the Phoenix lander (http://phoenix.lpl.arizona.edu/09_09_pr.php). Chloride, perhaps table salt, have also been found by Mars Odyssey.[1]


Open Issues

  • How exactly can iron, magnesium, etc. be extracted out of these minerals? What we need here are simple processes, allowing the exploitation with limited chemical and energy resources on Mars. The processing should be strictly lo-tech.