I was imagining taking advantage of the large amount of iron within the dust and rocks of Mars, allowing for magnetic engines of some kind propelling vehicles forward. Is this possible at all? What are the limits if so?

  • $\begingroup$ Like the Maglev? $\endgroup$
    – Vincent
    Aug 2, 2018 at 1:38
  • $\begingroup$ Iron is susceptible to magnetism, but it is not magnetic. Different kinds of minerals are naturally magnetic, but none of these will help you as the effect is too small. Planetary magetism is the result of a primarily liquid iron core that's spinning (like a generator), but as large an area as it covers, it's fairly weak. Because of all this, most novels use fictional gravitics for touchless transport rather than the too-well-known magnetics. $\endgroup$ Aug 2, 2018 at 4:07
  • $\begingroup$ Yup, and Mars doesn't have a liquid iron core, so no planetary magnetic field. $\endgroup$ Aug 2, 2018 at 17:28

2 Answers 2


Despite the higher elemental concentration of iron, Martian soil isn't actually magnetic.

The iron in the Martian crust is primarily bound up in iron oxides. Specifically, it's mostly iron(III) oxide, which is generally only weakly magnetic at room temperatures. (Technically there's a phase of iron(III) oxide that is strongly magnetic, but it's much rarer in nature.)



Even if you build a device that has a high magnetic pull, to the point where it would be drawn to martian soil, it would be just that: drawn to martian soil.

Same goes for repulsion.

I'm struggling to find a way to actually guide this vehicle in a steerable fashion. Nevermind the issue of making the locomotion more energy-efficient than other ways of getting it to move.

  • $\begingroup$ Agreed, also worth noting you have to launch this vehcile from earth get it to mars and then land it, anything that could have that power a magnetic force would weigh many many tonnes. heaviest thing we've put into mars "orbit" would have been Elon Musk's 2 tonne Tesla, and they missed with that. heaviest thing we've landed was curiosity at 899kgs $\endgroup$ Aug 2, 2018 at 9:14

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