As humans reach out into the solar system, it will be necessary to use resources available on other worlds. Carrying building supplies from Earth via rockets is both impractical and frightfully expensive. The best solution is to find means to utilize materials found on the Moon and Mars.

A new experiment conducted aboard the International Space Station (ISS) showed certain bacteria can extract materials from rocks found on the Moon and Mars useful to interplanetary colonists. Bacteria mining the Moon and Mars, interplanetary colonists could obtain iron, magnesium, and minerals to supply systems providing air and water.

“Single-celled organisms have evolved over time on Earth to extract nutrients and other essential compounds from rocks through specialized chemical reactions. These bacterial processes are harnessed to extract about 20% of the world’s copper and gold for human use. The scientists wanted to know if they worked in microgravity too,” MIT Technology Review reports.

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