What is happening?
NASA is looking for proposal studies and developments related to the use of space resources that may apply to future moon and Mars missions. On December 4, 2017, NASA released an appendix to their NextSTEP-2, short for Next Space Technologies for Exploration Partnerships 2, that calls for these proposals.
Here is what NASA wants to extract:
NASA wants companies to propose ideas on how to build the right components to extract space resources. The desired subsystems and components need to extract water, carbon dioxide, and other substances from the Martian atmosphere and soils. These resources will aid future expeditions which will reduce the reliance on resource transportation from Earth.
Has it been done this before?
There is a growing interest in the idea of extracting resources from outer space that may be used as a propellent or life support. More specially, companies like Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources, who are planning missions to explore asteroids, near Earth, for water availability.
For more info, please visit: https://www.nasa.gov/nextstep