The Martians were giants with the strength of twenty men. When they attacked Earth, it looked like all was lost. The Martians were just too strong. Fortunately, their immune systems were not strong enough to fight off common earthly bacteria.
Edison’s Conquest of Mars is a science fiction story written in 1898 by Garret Putman Serviss. The story starts as the war for Earth ends, and humans chase the aliens back to their home on Mars. At the time this story was written, the writer couldn’t imagine things that today we take for granted, like radio communication. In his story, the alien ships communicate with one another using flags. As laughable as that is, Serviss did imagine one thing that looks like it will become a reality in our lifetime. On the way to Mars, the humans stop off on an asteroid that the aliens are mining for gold.
Fast forward to 2015. A very real company called Planetary Resources is also planning to mine asteroids in the future. They aren’t after gold though. They’re after platinum and water. And they have some very serious backers. Google billionaires and Planetary Resources investors Eric Schmidt and Larry Page are betting asteroid mining will become a fruitful reality.
Asteroids are minor planets in our solar system and there are millions of them. The largest known asteroid is called Ceres. It circles the sun between Mars and Jupiter. It was discovered in 1801 and it has a diameter of 963 kilometers, with a surface area about the size of India. In 2014, scientists using a telescope in space made a surprising discovery. Ceres contains water vapor.
Water, of course, is essential to life as we know it. As humanity begins the colonization of space, raw materials like water have to be sourced. Scientists are now developing technologies that will allow water from asteroids to be bottled in containers.
Water is needed to sustain human life, but it is also a source of energy. Scientists at Purdue University are developing a new type of rocket fuel, which is made from water and aluminum powder.
The cost of taking water and fuel from Earth into space to allow further space exploration is enormous. So finding water in space is a real game-changer. Will astronauts drink bottled water from asteroids in our lifetime? And will they use it to power their space ships to other planets?
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