Traveling light — between planets The Christian Science Monitor

Wringing water out of the Martian atmosphere to make rocket propellant for a return voyage to Earth may sound like the stuff of a Grimm Brothers fairy tale. However, like the dwarf who helped the miller’s daughter become queen by spinning straw into gold, scientists are conducting research that someday may make space-refueling stations, and the possibility of interplanetary travel, a reality for all of us. Using a technology known as in situ resource utilization, or ISRU, researchers are studying ways to mine natural resources on other planets. Their efforts could greatly reduce the cost to visit, and eventually live in, space. Current projects include efforts to produce rocket propellants from water in the air, and to mine aluminum for a special antenna that could collect solar energy and convert it into electricity for manufacturing on another planet.