Post Earth Saga
Datafile - Zero Atmosphere Mining
Last Updated: 2008-11-04

Zero Atmosphere Mining is a technique developed to allow materials to be mined from asteroids or worlds without the need for the construction of expensive domes and life support equipment. There are two main methods, enclosed and total exposure mining.

1.  Enclosed Mining
2.  Total Exposure Mining
3.  Protection Suits

Enclosed Mining

As the name suggests the mining crews are completely enclosed. A large mobile refinery machine is placed on the planet's surface. Upon reaching a location to be mined a large tube is lowered to the surface and attempts to dig into the ground. Attempts are then made to pressurise this connection to the ground below. On successful pressurisation miners wearing minimal protection suits enter the chamber and can use machinery contained within the refinery to begin to extract the materials they are interested in.

While many aspects are fully automated or can be performed using remote controlled robots, it is deemed that people are still required to perform tasks on the ground. Due to the stresses placed upon them, Z.A. miners tend to have a short working life and a moderately high level of pay.

Total Exposure Mining

As the name would suggest in total exposure mining the miners are fully exposed to the atmosphere or vacuum where they are working, with only their machinery and full protection suits to keep them alive. As with enclosed mining the machinery used by the miners is much the same as is used in normal atmospheric mining, though the control areas are pressurised with a breathable atmosphere and heated, allowing miners to have areas of safety should a protection suit fail.

The advantage of total exposure mining is that time and money are saved by not having to try to pressurise the entire working area all the time, and the relevant safety checks involved in the process.

Protection Suits

The minimal protection suit is a thin layer over the skin, allowing a lot of freedom of mobility but only allows for a short period of exposure to extreme temperatures/atmospheres. The helmet is designed to have open breather areas when in an acceptable atmosphere, with a change in pressure or atmospheric make-up the helmet will seal and use the small air containers mounted to the back of the suit for breathing.

The full protection suits resemble older space suits with extra reinforced protection panels, mobility is greatly reduced at the expense of allowing longer working times in inhospitable environments.
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