Water Miners

While the current state of gene-engineering can allow humans to adapt themselves to the rigours of asteroid and/or comet mining, miners are still predominantly humans seen using sophisticated hard-suits to protect themselves from the extremely hostile environments of the trade.

The greatest riches for a newly formed colony are often not measured in rare metals or refined goods or the usual pleasantries of civilized life. Indeed one of the most sought after and most difficult resource to secure for untamed worlds is simple water.

This is deceptive because water exists in abundance in most galaxies since its components, hydrogen and oxygen, are among the most abundant elements in the universe. The problem is that this water is often found in diffused gases, or filled with impurities. The locating, harvesting, refining, and subsequent delivery of water is an involved and complicated process that is still unable to be performed with totally unmanned systems.

In fact, even though virtually all solar systems have some concentration of water, the complexity involved in gathering and refining are so significant that interstellar deliveries of water have become a very lucrative market (thanks in no small part to the facilitation of interstellar travel via FTL technology of course), especially for systems engaged in extensive terraforming projects.

Water’s basic components provide one of the most efficient chemical energy sources around, Hydrogen-Oxygen burning. It’s needed in any life support system that needs to harbour standard carbon-based life forms. And it serves several applications for low-population industrial colonies as well. Water (or water ice) is also an excellent source of hydrogen isotopes, used extensively in fusion reactors.

Europans (Homo Sapiens Europanus) are in a sense bred to excel at water mining. All too often the water is trapped in low-gravity bodies as ice, requiring human miners to don heavy and complex tools so that they can simply survive (let alone navigate) the cold darks. The oceans of Europa are much closer in nature to comets than the green fields of Terra are. Even so, not even Europans can survive water-mine conditions without some protection, and the trade is seen as one requiring great strength and conviction regardless of species.