Scientists say there’s enough water in just one region of Mars to fill up Lake Superior – if only it could be extracted from subsurface ice.

So how can future Red Planet settlers take advantage of those deposits to produce the drinkable water, breathable oxygen and hydrogen-based rocket fuel they’ll need? Researchers at the University of Washington are working on a way.

Their research builds upon a technology that was pioneered almost two decades ago, known as the water vapor adsorption reactor, or WAVAR. Adam Bruckner, a professor in UW’s Department of Aeronautics and Astronautics, worked with students to develop a device that could extract tiny amounts of water vapor from the Martian atmosphere.

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