NEW research has taken a “giant leap” forward in humanity’s plans to colonise Mars, with a plan to use the Red Planet’s air, dirt and sunlight to extract metals.


A team of researchers, led by Professor Akbar Rhamdhani of the Swinburne University of Technology, has published the first of its kind detailed study on metal production on another planet. This research could be pivotal for humanity’s plans to live on another planet, as it would allow them to build large structures on alien worlds without having to ferry gigantic heaps of materials from Earth.

Focussing on extracting metals on the Red Planet, the researchers are currently developing a process that would take processed air, dirt and sunlight on Mars to create metallic iron.

The process would use concentrated solar power as a source of heat and carbon, which is produced by the cooling of CO gas—which is a by-product of oxygen production in the Mars atmosphere.

Humans have already been able to produce oxygen on Mars on the Perseverance rover, through the MOXIE (Mars Oxygen In-Situ Resource Utilization Experiment) NASA project.

The researchers intend to couple their metal extraction process with a future oxygen generator plant which is much larger than the Mars rover’s MOXIE.

Mars colonisation made ‘cheaper and efficient’ as ‘valuable’ metals to be made from soil.

This research could be pivotal for humanity’s plans to live on another planet

This research could be pivotal for humanity’s plans to live on another planet

This machine will help produce both oxygen and an iron alloy, which could be used to create metals for future human missions and development on Mars.

By creating metals on Mars, space agencies would avoid the expensive affair of launching enormous resources from Earth, making space colonisation “more efficient and cheaper”.

According to a press release, this will also allow for greater human exploration and extension of technology, like satellites, that help gather data and solve problems back on Earth.

The team, which consists of postdoctoral researcher Dr. Reiza Mukhlis and Ph.D. students Deddy Nababan, Matthew Shaw and Matthew Humbert from Swinburne’s Fluid and Process Dynamics Research Group and Space Technology and Industry Institute, are currently working closely with CSIRO Minerals and the CSIRO Space Technology Future Science Platform to take the research to the next stage.