Scientists say there’s enough water in just one region of Mars to fill up Lake Superior – if only it could be extracted from subsurface ice.
So how can future Red Planet settlers take advantage of those deposits to produce the drinkable water, breathable oxygen and hydrogen-based rocket fuel they’ll need? Researchers at the University of Washington are working on a way.
Their research builds upon a technology that was pioneered almost two decades ago, known as the water vapor adsorption reactor, or WAVAR. Adam Bruckner, a professor in UW’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, worked with students to develop a device that could extract tiny amounts of water vapor from the Martian atmosphere.
The WAVAR device was successfully tested in Mars-type conditions, but there wasn’t any funding to move the technology beyond proof of concept.
“NASA has not really funded in-situ resource utilization for research work on that at all,” Bruckner told GeekWire. WAVAR does make a cameo, however, in the fictional tale of Red Planet settlement depicted in “Mars,” a miniseries airing on National Geographic Channel.