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. There is some consensus that gas should be mined from gas planets but this would be difficult with current technology, however Uranus & Neptune would be the easiest planets to mine for gas. Jupiter & Saturn are closer but Jupiter has alot of gravity to tend with & it could be difficult navigating through the rings of Saturn. Also Earth's atmosphere can be mined for carbon dioxide to produce fuel & to reduce the levels of greenhouse gas in the atmosphere.

Types of atmospheric mining[edit]

Hydrogen mining[edit]

Hydrogen may fuel chemical and nuclear propulsion.[1]

Helium mining[edit]

Helium-3 may fuel nuclear propulsion.[1]

Methane mining[edit]

Methane may fuel chemical propulsion.[1]

Carbon dioxide mining[edit]

Carbon dioxide mining on earth will reduce the level of greenhouse gases & can also produce fuel.

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]


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]


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


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]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h Palaszweski, Bryan (April 2015). "Atmospheric Mining in the Outer Solar System: Resource Capturing, Exploration, and Exploitation" (PDF). Cleveland, Ohio 44135-3191: National Aeronautics and Space Administration John H. Glenn Center at Lewis Field. Retrieved August 13, 2015.

External links[edit]