For more info on the 2nd Off Earth Mining Forum see http://www.acser.unsw.edu.au/oemf2015
- Mining Mars
Mars offers many opportunities for using in situ resources to reduce the logistic overhead of human missions to the planet. Recent discoveries confirm that Mars has an abundance of water, a history of magmatism, basin development, fluid migration, regolith processes, and evolved granitoid crust that have resulted in observed localised enrichment in potential resources. Use of these potential resources would greatly facilitate Mars exploration and perhaps subsequent settlement. Identifying potential resources is therefore a priority for NASA landing site selection. Split-mission architectures may provide opportunities for commercially funded automated extraction and stockpiling of water, propellants, breathing gases, and perhaps regolith resources before the arrival of crew. Subsequent opportunities at permanent Mars research stations include fabrication of basic structures from regolith resources such as basalt and gypsum, and research into extraction of iron and magnesium. and use of hydrothermal silica and clays. Localised enrichment in base metals have been observed and potential exists for future discovery of sulphide mineralisation. These resources would not be for the development of export industries, but to support development of Mars-based infrastructure and settlement. Australian expertise in all the related fields of resource geology, exploration geophysics and geochemistry, remote area operations, mining, metallurgy, field robotics has an opportunity to make a significant contribution in the field of Mars resource utilisation at an early stage. Experience with the development of good legal frameworks for exploration, development, taxation, and environmental protection in Australia may also aid in shaping the current poorly defined legal framework for martian resources.
Jon is an astrogeologist who completed his undergraduate and honours degree at the University of Tasmania and a PhD at Flinders University. He with a broad background in the resource, university and government sectors. Jon has spent 13 years in mineral exploration with Comalco, Seltrust, and WMC Resources with particular involvement in nickel, copper, gold, diamonds and zinc exploration in WA, SA, NT, QLD, The Philippines, and Chile. He has been associated with Melbourne and the Australian National Universities and with the Australian Centre for Astrobiology. Most recently Jon spent 11 years with Geoscience Australia working in groundwater, salinity management, and precompetitive mineral exploration . He is the current president and research director of Mars Society Australia (MSA), a non-profit approved research institute. Through MSA Jon has been researching Mars mission architecture, exploration strategies, geomorphology, analogues, and potential mineral resources, as well as education and outreach programs.