It’s no secret that actually getting anything to Mars is insanely hard and expensive, so a new report from NASA posits future astronauts will need to live off the land to successfully survive on the Red Planet.
The report, titled "Frontier In-Situ Resource Utilization for Enabling Sustained Human Presence on Mars” (catchy, right?), points to the different resources astronauts will need to mine and harvest once they get there. The report notes there are “massive resources” on Mars that could be obtainable from the atmosphere and extracted from the regolith — including water, fuel, oxygen and building materials.
The point of this approach would, obviously, aim to reduce dependence on Earth (since resupply missions would be extremely expensive, and few and far between). The big focus of the report is on in-situ resource utilization (ISRU), and authors Robert Moses and Dennis Bushnell, of NASA's Langley Research Center, said that should be a key component in any sustained Mars mission plan.
The report puts forward some excellent points, and serves as a reminder that we’re going to need to develop the tech and science to take advantage of the resources on Mars before we actually get there.