While we often envision future Martian colonies powered by solar, steam or nuclear power, one aspect we often neglect is the human rated rovers that will be criss crossing the planet.

Fortunately it looks like technology developed on Earth may aid rover ranging explorers on Mars.

The idea is to use the sun to power chemical plants able to split carbon dioxide. Combine the resulting carbon monoxide with hydrogen and you have the beginnings of a solar fuel that could one day replace oil. […] Now, Konstandopoulos and colleagues have successfully used the same reactor technology and process to split carbon dioxide into carbon monoxide in the lab. Two reactors running simultaneously could generate hydrogen and carbon monoxide, which could be combined into synthetic fuel using one of two established chemical processes, says Konstandopoulos. In the Sabatier process the two gases are heated at high pressure in the presence of a nickel catalyst to produce methane or methanol, while in theFischer-Tropsch process an iron-based catalyst is used to generate liquid hydrocarbon fuels. (New Scientist)

Although scientists have already explored technology that could turn Martian air into fuel, it’s good to see others pursuing this idea on our home planet.

While the first Martian rovers carrying humans will probably be fully electric, over time we may see settlers transition to fuel based rovers (provided the economics converting Martian air support it).

Even though this technology would probably not replace fossil fuels on Earth (due to the cost and “ease” of extracting oil), it may help our fuel our descendants travels on our neighboring planet. (via Gizmodo)

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