Methane to Aromatics on Mars (MetaMars)

 Link to SBIR Proposal Summary

The METAMARS system is an in situ resource utilization (ISRU) technique that can convert methane produced from the carbon dioxide in the Martian atmosphere to low hydrogen content liquid aromatic fuels for an Earth Return Vehicle, thus greatly increasing the leverage of the hydrogen imported from the Earth. More importantly, the METAMARS system reduces the amount of hydrogen imported from Earth by a factor of four, leading to dramatic reductions in mission cost. This project involved design and construction of an oxygen/aromatic hydrocarbon production facility sized to produce 1 kg of bipropellant per day. Because aromatic fuels contain only about one hydrogen atom per carbon atom, such a system would give extremely high leverages on the order of 53 in the production of fuel and oxidizer for a Mars Sample Return mission and human Mars missions. Project work was carried out from February through August 2001.

Clyde Parrish was the Kennedy Space Center (KSC) program manager and Anthony Muscatello was the principal investigator at Pioneer Astronautics.