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A global map of Mars’ future mining regions

A global map of Mars' future mining regions
Click for labeled image.

Using data accumulated in the past decade from orbiters, scientists have now published a global map of Mars, showing the regions on the red planet where there are high concentrations of hydrated minerals, minerals formed in the past in conjunction with the presence of water.

The maps to the right show those regions in various colors, indicating different types of minerals.

On Earth, clays form when water interacts with rocks, with different conditions giving rise to different types of clays. For example, clay minerals such as smectite and vermiculite form when relatively small amounts of water interact with the rock and so retain mostly the same chemical elements as the original volcanic rocks. In the case of smectite and vermiculite those elements are iron and magnesium. When the amount of water is relatively high, the rocks can be altered more. Soluble elements tend to be carried away leaving behind aluminium-rich clays such as kaolin.

The big surprise is the prevalence of these minerals. Ten years ago, planetary scientists knew of around 1000 outcrops on Mars. This made them interesting as geological oddities. However, the new map has reversed the situation, revealing hundreds of thousands of such areas in the oldest parts of the planet.

Though this data once again suggests that liquid water once flowed on the surface of Mars, for future colonists it is more important in that it identifies the regions where the most valuable resources will likely be found. For example, most of the colored regions on the map are located in the dry equatorial parts of Mars. However, south of the giant canyon Valles Marineris is a mineral region at about 30 to 40 degrees south latitude, to the northwest of Argyre Basin. This is also a region with a high concentration of glacial features. The two combined will likely make this region very valuable real estate.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors, with the ebook priced at $5.99 before discount. The ebook can also be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95; Shipping cost for either: $5.00). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

One comment

  • sippin_bourbon

    We have drilled, what, 2 to 3 inches depth max on any part of the Red Planet?

    What we need is a swarm of dedicated prospecting drones that are dedicated to piercing the surface, going deep and getting a good sample to run an on the spot assay.

    Drop 15 to 20 of those around at some targeted areas and lets have a good at what is under the surface. We start finding good stuff, and motivation to get there might go up. Finding the right elements. minerals, metals, etc, could really open the door. But we need to look first.

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