- The best places on Mars for valuable ores are volcanoes, lava flows and impact craters.
- Mars' different history, crust and atmosphere make it certain that minerals there will be different than those of Earth.
- Martian miners will not likely be sending much back to Earth.
Future Mars prospectors will likely find mineral riches in some unusual settings, say planetary scientists studying the different ways valuable metals might have been concentrated on the red planet.
On Earth, surface waters, ground waters and even chemicals left by living things play major roles in leaching, concentrating and depositing valuable metals and minerals like iron, gold, silver, nickel, copper and many more.
But on Mars there are no oceans or surface waters; no microorganisms either. What's more, the planet is so cold that even groundwater is frozen as permafrost and functions as little more than another mineral in the ground.
So where does a starving miner look on Mars for usable quantities of ore?
Try the volcanoes and impact craters, says planetary scientist Michael West of Australian National University in Canberra and the Mars Institute.