Water is the hard part of my plan for growing food. Many people look at Mars and think “Oh, it’s red and dusty, it must be a desert. No water here.” However, even with our early missions in the 1970s, we found evidence of water. Mostly frozen water, and mostly near the poles, but there’s ice. There’s also lots of Water-Ice under the dusty surface. I could try and dig some of that up, but I’d probably waste most of the nearby land while I’m waiting to get to Schiaparelli. Going to the poles isn’t a good idea. Yes, it’s mostly one direction from where I am, but it’s a long way to go to just to be the convenience store to ask for more ice.
However, my mission had another job, and it would be a bit easier of a trip. See, in 2015, the Phoenix orbiter found that during the Martian summer, linae would appear along some hills. Spectroscopy analysis then showed that they were formed from hydrated perchlorates. Perchlorates are a kind of salt used to blow things up, so in addition to being very salty, I’d basically be drinking Rocket Fuel.
One of the places these linae of rocket fuel brine showed up? You guessed it, here in Acidalia Planitia. If we could manage it, Lewis and I were supposed to get up to about 10kg of the hydrated Perchlorate during our stay, and then I was going to work with Vogel to try and see if I could de-rocket fuel the water, and see how much I can get out of it for the energy expended.
Now, on Hermes, we are able to desalinate water through a lot of tests, but there’s also a very easy way to do this. Take two bowls of different sizes. Put some clean water in the small one, and all the salt water in the big one. Cover them up, and put in the sun and wait a while. Boom, you separate the water from the salt. However, if I were to go out find some linae and test it out, I’d have to have tanks to carry large amounts for my potato operation, and I’m not sure the rovers can handle that.
This also assumes I can find the linae anywhere nearby, and that there’s enough water in the perchlorate flows to make this useful.
This basically leaves me with one decision, use actual rocket fuel, isolate the hydrogen, and mix with water. At least the math works out that I should get enough water, and it's easier to Control.