Mining the hydrogen peroxide of Mars for monopropellant rocket fuel
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Already since the 1970s, hydrogen peroxide (H2O2) has been suggested as a possible oxidizer of the Martian surface, but until only three decades latter it was finally detected. So far, the interest aroused by planetary scientist on H2O2 is because it could be the key catalytic chemical that controls Mars atmospheric chemistry. However, from the point of view of a rocket scientist hydrogen peroxide is a rocket fuel, and indeed it is the most simple monopropellant rocket fuel known. Here, a scoping study was made for the possibility of mining the hydrogen peroxide from the regolith or from the atmosphere of Mars to be used as monopropellant rocket fuel. Although certainly with a rather reduced low specific impulse and then a limited transfer of momentum to the spacecraft for each unit of propellant expended, nevertheless, H2O2 offers an interesting alternative for the red planet in terms of its availability, simplicity and reliability. Two methods were investigated, namely. (1) by mining H2O2 directly from the regolith, and (2) by the continuous removal from the atmosphere. It was found that the first option seems unpractical -at least for the early stages of human expedition, because will require vast amounts of regolith to be removed, processed and dumped owing to the poor concentration in the martian regolith. Nevertheless, pumping out the atmospheric H2O2 will allow to obtain the required propellant for a Mars Ascent Vehicle (MAV) during the length of time in which the expedition must remain on Mars - Hohmann orbital rendezvous, and with a reasonable area of collector as well as input pumping power. Pumping power driven by photovoltaic energy sources, radioisotope generators (RTGs) were briefly investigated
CitationArias, F.J. "Mining the hydrogen peroxide of Mars for monopropellant rocket fuel". 2019.