USA flag logo/image

An Official Website of the United States Government

Methane to Aromatics on Mars

Award Information

National Aeronautics and Space Administration
Award ID:
Program Year/Program:
2002 / SBIR
Agency Tracking Number:
Solicitation Year:
Solicitation Topic Code:
Solicitation Number:
Small Business Information
Pioneer Astronautics
CO Lakewood, CO 80215-5516
View profile »
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No
Phase 1
Fiscal Year: 2002
Title: Methane to Aromatics on Mars
Agency: NASA
Contract: NAS10-02012
Award Amount: $0.00


The Methane to Aromatics on Mars (METAMARS) project will design and build a machine for converting methane produced by the Sabatier reaction into a low hydrogen content, low vapor pressure, high density, aromatic fuel. Its primary advantage is a factor of four reduction of hydrogen feedstock importation requirements for production of rocket fuel compared to the standard S/E process for an equivalent mass of fuel. In addition, since all oxygen produced by the Sabatier system comes from the carbon dioxide feed, by reducing the hydrogen in the fuel the METAMARS process will simultaneously improve the stoichiometry of the fuel/oxidizer combination and will reduce the power required by the process. The benzene fuel is also considerably denser than methane fuel. A final advantage of the METAMARS process is that it operates at low pressure, in contrast to synthesis reactions for other higher hydrocarbons. These advantages make the METAMARS process a prime technology to improve the applicability of the Sabatier process for small scale unmanned Mars missions, such as the Mars Sample Return (MSR) mission, as well as a key technology for manned Mars missions.

Principal Investigator:

Tony Muscatello
Senior Research Scientist

Business Contact:

Robert Zubrin
Small Business Information at Submission:

Pioneer Astronautics
11111 W. 8th Ave., Unit A Lakewood, CO 80215

EIN/Tax ID: 841322304
Number of Employees:
Woman-Owned: No
Minority-Owned: No
HUBZone-Owned: No