The boreal plains northward of the mid-northern latitudes of Mars are believed to contain large quantities of sub-surface ice, in some places thought to be over 90% pure ice. This resource is of interest for future human explorers and settlers of the Red planet.
HYDRATION III is a proof-of-concept of a semi-autonomous Mars water production system which uses mechanical drilling to build and case a borehole through the overburden, followed by thermal ice drilling, melting and water pumping. HYDRATION III was extensively tested with generous support from MassRobotics in the summer of 2021, meeting all our targets for increased reliability, increased productivity and improved remote operability. The series of eight integrated tests paid off: in the last test at MIT in early September 2021, HYDRATION III produced 4 liters from a single borehole in a little over an hour, which is not far from the total production of HYDRATION in the 2019 competition (5.3L over 12 hours).
At the competition in Hampton, VA in late September 2021, HYDRATION III was operated entirely hands-off throughout, producing about 24.3L of water from two boreholes, which is about the same total quantity of water as that produced by all ~30 teams in the first three years of the competition. HYDRATION III won the awards for First Place, Most Water Collected and Best Technical Poster.