Mars may have once been warm and full of water, but today it is dry and cold. NASA/JPL

When humans make it to Mars they’ll have ditched the comforts of home back on Earth, as well as the resources that are usually available to them. Even basic necessities like food and water will be difficult if not impossible to come by.

Water will be one of the key resources that will be necessary immediately upon setting up a colony on the red planet. One theory is that this water could come from below the surface of Mars where there might be frozen water. This water ice is theorized to be situated at the mid-northern latitudes of the planet.

Currently no rover or craft has been able to confirm whether or not there actually is water on this part of the planet and even with ice under the surface, there’s still the challenge of changing that ice into a liquid water form.

In June, NASA held a competition for college students who all worked on simulated Mars soil and ice. They came up with various tools and ways to extract the ice through about 16 inches of soil. The means by which they did this was restricted too, the students were under strict volume, mass and power constraints like those that would apply to any instrument actually sent to Mars.

Other than Mars, asteroids and the moon have been brought up as possible locations that have ice or water. The moon is an unlikely spot for water despite the rusty rock that got some researchers hypothesizing that it actually did have liquid water. Asteroids are another candidate for ice water.

There are two companies working on the technology necessary for mining water ice on near-Earth asteroids. Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources are both looking to get their technologies to asteroids to start mining. The search is for more than just water, asteroids are frequently rich in other elements that can be valuable for use back on Earth. The craft that Planetary Resources has created are set for launch some time this year.

SpaceX has plans to send humans to Mars in the near future, as part of Elon Musk’s plan to make humans a multi planetary species. That colonization would also involve mining, done by robots, under the surface of the planet, Musk said in a Reddit AMA last fall. Musk's vision for life on Mars involves a full colony, where people would require water and food, but he's previously said that the need would mean there would be no shortage of work for those on the planet.

Currently the mining technology isn't refined enough to properly extract the ice under the planet because the ice turns to gas when its extracted, once engineers find a way to get the ice into liquid form, life on Mars will become far more possible.