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One of the main reasons that SpaceX's Starship engine raptor uses methane is because it can theoretically be produced there from atmospheric CO2 and subsurface H2O.

Where there any experiments that produced methane rocket fuel on mars?

Something similar to what MOXIE hopefully will do with Oxygen.

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    $\begingroup$ @uhoh I will edit my question, the focus of the question is whether or not any experiments managed to produce methane rocket fuel on Mars. It doesn't matter from which source materials on Mars. $\endgroup$ – moshevi Aug 17 '20 at 20:07
  • $\begingroup$ Looks great, thanks! $\endgroup$ – uhoh Aug 18 '20 at 1:03
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To my knowledge, while a variety of institutions have looked at producing Methane on Mars by combining native CO2 with imported H2 using the Sabatier Reaction, no experiments have actually been carried out on the planet.

Backup evidence:

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The closest to this that has been done was tests to create methane in a vacuum chamber set up to simulate the atmosphere of Mars. The details of this are talked about in the book by Robert Zubrin, "The Case for Mars". It should in theory work on Mars, but the only ISRU instrument that has been sent to Mars is to make oxygen, and that is on its way now on Perseverance.

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  • $\begingroup$ Do you know of any plans to send such an experiment to Mars on future missions? $\endgroup$ – moshevi Aug 17 '20 at 20:12
  • $\begingroup$ There is nothing really planned, except for SpaceX's Starship missions, which I'm certain will be testing that in the early days to have a full scale plant when they actually land humans there. $\endgroup$ – PearsonArtPhoto Aug 17 '20 at 20:24
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    $\begingroup$ It would be fairly surprising if the Sabatier reaction didn't work. The only problem I can see is filtering dust and fines from the Martian atmosphere without the filter clogging. Otherwise its just standard gas chemistry. Mining ice is much more challenging because of all the mechanical problems getting to it, drilling, etc. $\endgroup$ – Steve Linton Aug 17 '20 at 22:50
  • $\begingroup$ The dust is certainly something to consider. I suspect the MOXIE tests will do something similar. Also, MOXIE tests several of the same things that are needed for making rocket fuel, after all, a good chunk of the fuel is liquid oxygen for a methalox system! $\endgroup$ – PearsonArtPhoto Aug 18 '20 at 15:05

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