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Making Rocket Fuel on Mars by Using Microbes Press "Enter" to skip to content

Making Rocket Fuel on Mars by Using Microbes

The teams of researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology have established an idea that would help in making Martian Rocket fuel on Mars. This Rocket fuel can be utilized to liftoff spacecraft back to the Earth.

The biotechnology process used three local resources of the red planet including sunlight, frozen water, and carbon dioxide. It will also contain transporting two microorganisms on Mars. The first microbe, the algae, would take carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and consume sunlight to produce sugars. Then the engineered E. coli will be used to transform those sugars into Martian propellant for spacecraft and other propulsion devices.

The Mars-specific propellant is also known as 2, 3-butanediol can be produced by using engineered E. coli. On Earth the 2, 3-butanediol is applied to make polymers for the production of rubber.

Making Rocket Fuel on Mars by Using Microbes

The spacecraft engines launching to Mars will be fueled by liquid oxygen (LOX) and methane. As liquid oxygen (LOX) and methane does not exist on Mars they will be transported from Earth. The projected cost of transporting the required 30 tons of methane and LOX would cost nearly $8 billion, which is very expensive.

To decrease the cost of transporting the fuel from Earth, NASA has suggested the idea of using chemical catalysts to transform carbon dioxide into liquid oxygen. Moreover, this yet requires the transportation of Methane from the Earth.

As an alternative to this, the Georgia Tech research team has proposed a biotech process in situ resource utilization (bio-ISRU) that can be used to generate propellant and liquid oxygen from carbon dioxide. The research team believes that this process will defiantly contribute to reducing the mission cost.