Atmospheric mining

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Atmospheric mining is the process of extracting valuable materials or other non-renewable resources from the atmosphere. Due to the abundance of hydrogen and helium in the outer planets of the Solar System, atmospheric mining may be easier than mining terrestrial surfaces.[1]

History of atmospheric mining[edit]

Atmospheric mining of outer planets has not yet begun.

Types of atmospheric mining[edit]

Hydrogen mining[edit]

Main article: Hydrogen mining

Hydrogen may fuel chemical and nuclear propulsion.[1]

Helium mining[edit]

Main article: Helium mining

Helium-3 may fuel nuclear propulsion.[1]

Methane mining[edit]

Main article: Methane mining

Methane may fuel chemical propulsion.[1]

Exploration for atmospheric mining[edit]

Hydrogen and helium are abundant in outer planets.

Atmospheric composition of outer planets[1]
Resource Jupiter Saturn Uranus Neptune
Hydrogen 89.8 96.3 82.5 80.0
Helium 10.2 3.3 15.2 19.0
Methane 2.3 1.0
Other 0.4 1.0

Methods of atmospheric mining[edit]

Aerostats[edit]

An aerostat would be a buoyant station in the atmosphere that gathers and stores gases. A vehicle would transfer the gases from the aerostat to an orbital station above the planet.[1]

Scoopers[edit]

A scooper would be a vehicle that gathers and transfers gases from the atmosphere to an orbital station.[1]

Cruisers[edit]

A cruiser would be a vehicle in the atmosphere that gathers and stores gases. A smaller vehicle would transfer the gases from the cruiser to an orbital station.[1]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Palaszweski, Bryan (October 2006). "Atmospheric Mining in the Outer Solar System" (PDF). http://gltrs.grc.nasa.gov. Cleveland, Ohio 44135-3191: National Aeronautics and Space Administration John H. Glenn Center at Lewis Field. Archived from the original on June 10, 2011. Retrieved September 17, 2013. 

External links[edit]