Introduction to
The Ironberry Plan:
An Electric and Steel-making way
to Build a Science Station on Mars

An extended outline of the Ironberry Plan has passed peer review and will be published in the Summer of 2024 in the Journal of the British Interplanetary Society (JBIS). JBIS is a prestiguous space exploration journal that first published Zubrin and Baker's 1990 "Mars Direct", an influential Mars exploration plan paper (for example, on Elon Musk). Further, the father of NASA's long successful "Water Strategy" to explore Mars, Carl Sagan, lauded and featured ideas published by The British Interplanetary Society in his hugely successful book and documentary series Cosmos.

robots on Mars We need a fleet of rovers, small helicopters, and even some long-distance airplanes to explore Mars in depth. They should observe, measure, and survey all of Mars and collect samples. We also need Martian laboratories, as capable as any on Earth, to test the samples.

Is this possible? At a reasonable cost?

Yes, and yes, and more!

astronomy slideshow We can build large arrays of telescopes on Mars. With robots and local materials, we can construct telescopes large enough and precise enough to vastly expand our search for life on exoplanets, peer back to the birth of the Universe, and uncover the secrets of black holes.

Two Planet Life is a nonprofit research institute working toward a future where this exploration will happen.

Images of ironberries
The Ironberry Plan in Brief:
The institute's core operations focus on (a) making steel and waterless concrete in a unique region of Mars, (b) using the steel and concrete to construct electricity generation structures and science infrastructure, (c) creating exponential growth in Martian electricity generation, steel-making and concrete construction and (d) using the growing electricity generation to build a capable science station.

The Ironberry Plan benefits from an England-sized region covered in and underlaid with huge numbers (O(1017)) of spherules rich in (~90 wt%) iron (III) oxide. In recent academic papers, these iron oxide spherules are called "ironberries."

Given the superb resources in and under the ironberry-bearing region, the exponential growth in local electricity, steel, and concrete readily branches out to include gathering and growing other vitals for establishing a science station. These other vitals include liberated water, electrical and thermal insulating ceramics, silicone and other siloxane polymers, propellant (fuel + oxidizer), high-precision manufacture and repair, biological nutrients, and breathable air. The growth in these other things will strongly couple with increases in electricity generation and hence, will also be exponential (if we so desire and decide).

Consequences of the Ironberry Plan:

  • The science station will grow and grow and support all the Martian science activities everyone wants.
  • The Ironberry Plan will expand
    1. exploration of Mars; and,
    2. astronomy from Mars.
  • These expansions will
    1. reveal the details of the Red Planet to us in this 21st century, including whether or not there is any native Martian life;
    2. change how we and our descendants appreciate both Earth and Mars; and,
    3. shape our imaginations of life beyond our solar system.

slideshow of harvester
Implementing the Ironberry Plan Now:

The founder of Two Planet Life has recently written and published many papers and patents that cover various parts of the Ironberry Plan.

The founder's metallurgy company, Two Planet Steel, is now funded by the National Science Foundation to develop Fast Iron Carbonylation (FIC). This radical update to iron carbonylation should be highly effective at processing Mars ore and also Earth ores and industrial wastes. Ownership of FIC patents will be transferred to Two Planet Life to fund it and the implementation of the Ironberry Plan.

If FIC performs as desired, it should significantly impact the lithium-ion battery, rare-earth, and other critical metal markets and provide significant amounts of zero-CO2 emissions iron powders and steel. Large revenue generation from FIC patents could significantly enable what is possible with the Ironberry Plan.

Previous NASA/ESA Exploration - Foundation for the Ironberry Plan

The Ironberry Plan rests on decades of exploration by thousands of scientists and engineers. This age of exploration started with images taken by the orbiters of NASA's Viking I and II missions (taken in the 1970s and studied through to the mid-1990s). NASA's exploration became more detailed through the images and data collected by the instruments on the orbiter Mars Global Surveyor (MGS) between 1997 and 2006. MGS data led to the discovery of the enormous hematite-bearing geological unit of the Meridiani Planum (Christensen et al., 2000). This discovery indicated substantial past water activity in this region. This water indication and the relative ease of landing on a large plain caused NASA to land its Mars Exploration Rover Opportunity on this plain in 2004. Between 2004 and 2018, Opportunity collected large databases of images and other data. These data were extensively studied and were sources for large numbers of papers on the geology of the ironberry-bearing region. The European Space Agency (ESA) has added to the data and studies of the Meridiani Planum through its orbiter Mars Express. The sizeable scientific literature based on the data from Opportunity and the orbiters was required to formulate the Ironberry Plan. This literature is cited extensively in the listed Ironberry Plan publications.