Mars is a treasure chest full of resources. Of all the available resources on Mars, water is the resource with the greatest utility. Aside from the possibility that it can contain extra-terrestrial life, it can be used for creating fuels and oxidizers, drinking water, agriculture, chemical processes, and more. The key question to resolve is: Where on Mars can we find large quantities of water that are easily accessible? Martian glaciers at mid-latitudes hold promise for being that ideal source.
Humans are fascinated with Mars, our closest Earth-like planet. With nearly 30 successful missions to Mars over the past five decades, one may assume that we have discovered all there is to know about Mars' surface. This is far from true as the mysterious surface slope streaks show. These features differ in size and shape, and seem to appear at random times and places. Scientists think they form via a wet or dry process, although it could be both. If a wet process causes them, this could have far reaching implications for finding extraterrestrial life on Mars and for future resource utilization missions.
Korolev crater is an 81 km diameter impact crater located near the Martian north pole. It is unusual because it contains year round water ice even though it’s located further south than the perennial ice stability line. Recent Martian missions have investigated this crater, uncovering some of the mysteries hidden below the ice. Korolev may be an ideal location for a future water extraction system. It contains enough ice to make such a mission worthwhile.
NASA (and DLR) will soon be breaking new lows on Mars with the deployment of InSight’s Heat Flow and Physical Properties Package, or HP3 by burrowing down deeper than any instrument ever deployed off Earth. HP3 main mission is to study Martian crust properties and evolutionary history. Though this may appear to only be a science based mission, gaining a deeper understanding of Mars' crust is essential for developing any mining system that will excavate material beyond the surface.
NASA’s twin Mars Cube One (MarCO) cubesats successfully completed their demonstration mission of relaying telemetry from the Mars InSight lander during InSight’s descent into the Martian atmosphere on November 26, 2018. This is a major milestone for cubesats because it validates that they can survive deep space and provide unique capabilities to future deep space missions.