Choosing the right place on Mars for a settlement would be of course an important decision because once it's there it would take much time and money to move on to another, better location.

Because the availability of water and energy are among the most important factors that would determine such a choice, can it be estimated at what depth boring for water near the equator, together with the availibility of more energy there, would become more economical than mining it near the surface at the midlatitudes ?

Water map Mars]1

NASA's Treasure Map for Water Ice on Mars shows us the image above with underground water ice on Mars at varying depth at about 40⁰ latitude and higher.

However, some parts of Mojave crater near the equator display a high concentration of closely spaced pits. It is believed that they form from steam produced when the heat from the impact process interacts with ice in the ground.

So if we assume that the groundwater ice is still there, at what depth would it become more economical to bore for that ice than to mine for it at 40⁰ latitude, regarding that near the equator it's much warmer and more solar energy is available ?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ "once it's there it would take much time and money to move on to another, better location" Would it, compared to what's spent getting there in the first place? If the first site's even minimally suitable for propellant production, it can easily supply enough propellant to move Starships to secondary sites. $\endgroup$ Dec 27 '20 at 20:57
  • $\begingroup$ @ChristopherJamesHuff Yes, but wouldn't one need another Starship then to move the production facility as well, i.e. the compressors, the pressure tanks for oxygen and hydrogen, the splitting water unit and all the solar panels ? $\endgroup$
    – Cornelis
    Dec 27 '20 at 22:37
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    $\begingroup$ A single Starship could make multiple round trips. Fully tearing down the original site is probably not worth the effort, and it would still have value as a secondary settlement (maybe specialized in water mining once ground shipment of water is possible), but having a foothold will make it easier to get started elsewhere. This is something we're probably going to end up doing no matter what: we don't know exactly what we'll need on Mars, there's limitations to what we can know about what's there without detailed work on the ground, and we're probably not going to find everything in one spot. $\endgroup$ Dec 27 '20 at 22:51

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