The year is 2036 and humanity has established a colony on Mars. There's hundreds of people there, more coming every two years, and now it's time to make the colony self-sustaining.

Now the question is: what's the availability of construction materials and other resources on Mars? A lot of people asked about production of methane and oxygen from CO2 and water to refuel rockets coming to Mars.

But what about other things, say, how would one go about making steel or aluminium or some other construction material out of available resources? How does that compare to availability of ores on Earth or the Moon?

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    $\begingroup$ There may be a lot of meteoric iron on the surface of mars. One of the rovers encountered a basketball-sized iron/nickle meteorite. Given how little of the surface the rovers have covered, this may indicate that they are not uncommon. They could be located with magnetometers and might be a valuable resource. $\endgroup$
    – user15797
    Jun 18 '16 at 0:36
  • $\begingroup$ If you mine iron oxides or aluminium oxide on mars, you need to reduce them first. For iron, a source for carbon and oxygen is necessary. For aluminium, a lot of electricial energy is needed. $\endgroup$
    – Uwe
    May 1 '17 at 19:31

You can make a kind of concrete from sulphur, although the idea of living in buildings made of a potentially poisonous material might not sound very attractive. There is also water which should provide you with rocket fuel. However, the actual building materials requirements will be quite low initially. What is really needed is solar cells, wind turbines and green houses. Also a lot of tools for plumbing, digging and wiring. Making these locally is probably not an option, since a factory/workshop weighs a lot more than the tools themselves.

edit: You can probably find some easy to reach usefuel ores on Mars, but you'd still need to separate the ore from the gravel and a furnace to process it.


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