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Author: Subject: Colony planet lab (Mars 1)

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[*] posted on 18-4-2017 at 07:39
Colony planet lab (Mars 1)

I wonder how much information is available on the chemistry set that is planned for the Mars missions.

I for one would hate to be in that out of the way place with insufficient reagents or just a simple compound that is needed to get a job done. A number of 3D printers is also a critical tool to take with.

Obviously the plan is to not need exotic chemicals but lithium candles and CO2 scrubbers may be needed as back up.
What other chemicals do you think they might take along without thinking too much of their benefits as precursors for potentially lifesaving things?
What other chemicals do you think they should take to have a minimum set of ingredients that they could use to make anything that could conceivably be needed?

The most likely uses would be to do with life support, hydroponics, emergencies (patches, cement, etchants) and all the experiments (geological, atmospheric, metallurgy).

My choice would be to take general purpose chemicals that can be modified in as many ways as possible using electricity or Martian air to grow the store list. Also better if reactivity of materials is low in transit so chlorates and alkali metals could be shipped in stable forms.

How much apparatus will they need and can one expect a team member to be a competent glass blower?

I found a few non-classified user manuals for field laboratories for USA military use. They have lovely lists of apparatus and chemicals that might be a starting point.

Would it not be a good thing if every country had a few amateur labs (mad scientists) that could come to the aid of the population in times of crisis rather than banning everything that can be used for evil even before it is used for evil.


Lahti, Finland
The only stable form of government is Open Source Government. - Kalle Pihlajasaari, 2013

[Edited on 2017-4-18 by KalleMP]
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National Hazard

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Registered: 27-11-2016
Location: Minnesota
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[*] posted on 18-4-2017 at 11:09

First thing you need is water. So you need systems to purify what you find, or lacking that, bring hydrogen from Earth and react it with Mars air.

What reaction you use would depend on what fuels you seek.

4H2 + CO2 = CH4 + 2H2O

6H2 + 2CO2 = C2H4 + 4H2O

You can pyrolyze the hydrocarbon to recover the hydrogen, if you want more water.
Or electrolyze the water, if you want more hydrocarbon or want oxygen.

Of course, oxygen can be gotten by direct disproportionation of Mars air:

2CO2 = 2CO + O2, depending on how much power you can spare.

Carbon monoxide can then be used to refine metal, via carbonyl reactions.

Ethylene can be polymerized, for useful plastics.

Once you have a CHO plant set up, many materials can be gotten, when needed, H2CO, CH3CHO, CH3CO2H, etc.

Once you establish agriculture, you're gonna need to set up a way to get N2 from the air, and fix it, via Fritsch-Haber:

N2 + 3H2 = 2NH3

Then converting that to nitric acid is a straightforward extension.

When sulfur is found, you'll want to establish sulfuric acid production, too.

From there, you would seek phosphates, and the means of refining that. Also potassium salts.

After that, likely chloralkali.

What's obviously missing would be hydrocarbons. Mars would have no coal or oil, as far as we know. Building a chemical industry without them would be a real challenge.
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