Whether or not Mars held oceans on its surface in the past, one thing is clear–there is a lot of water on the red planet. Despite most of it being frozen, future astronauts will probably have to filter the Martian water in order to be able to drink it safely.
Even though Mars has an abundance of water (not to mention soil that may be able to grow Asparagus), the planet lacks major known resources of any kind–especially in the “metal department.”
While some may suggest future colonists scour the crimson world in search of resources (or import them from the asteroid belt), it may be better for future settlers to simply collect from the water they filtrate via desalination factories.
(Globes Online) A study by “Globes” found that that the Ashkelon desalination plant, produces 6,500 cubic meters of fresh water a day, and discharges iron into the Mediterranean as a byproduct. The 100-million cubit meter a year plant is owned by the VID consortium, VID is consortium of IDE Technologies Ltd. and Veolia Water SA. [...]
During the reverse osmosis desalination process, the facility removes iron from the seawater before it its pushed through the desalination membranes that produce fresh water. Ministry of Environmental Protection officials from the Coastal and Marine Division told “Globes” that they were unaware that the Ashkelon facility discharges this iron into the sea, in the form of “red water”, and that they were taken by surprise when they learned about it.
Although Israel’s desalination plants (or factories) will have to be improved in order to reduce (or hopefully eliminate) the iron being fed back into the oceans, these factories may have stumbled upon a unique way for future colonists to extract metals from Martian water.
Since Mars has plenty of rust within its soil, there is a good chance that a large percentage of that has mixed in with its water. While this is no guarantee that humanity would be able to turn “rust into iron,” these desalination factories might be able to extract some iron from the crimson planet’s “water supply.”
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