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Thread: Asteroid mining

  1. #121
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    I'm thinking all that reddish crud that covers distant icy objects might be great for bio-reactors

  2. #122
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    Wonder what we'll dig out of the ground here.


    https://www.chemistryworld.com/news/...009885.article

    Dwarf planet Ceres turns out to be extra-carbony: Asteroid belt’s largest object, thought to be a piece of rock, contains up to 20% carbon
    Katrina Krämer By Katrina Krämer | 11 December 2018

    Dwarf planet Ceres is made up of 20% carbon, scientists have concluded after reviewing seemingly conflicting data from Nasa’s Dawn spacecraft. The discovery suggests that the tiny planet – previously thought to be a hunk of rock and ice – might have had a role in distributing organic molecules across the early solar system. At roughly one-fourth the moon’s size, Ceres is the biggest object in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. In early 2017 astronomers discovered organic material in a Ceres crater. The material included heat-sensitive compounds, suggesting it was formed on the dwarf planet rather than being introduced by a meteor impact. Now, a team around Simone Marchi from Southwest Research Institute, US, found that even more organic chemistry happened on Ceres as up to 20% of its weight is carbon. Having five times as much carbon as carbon-rich meteorites makes it likely that the compounds stem from aqueous reactions in the protoplanet’s past. However, Ceres could also have accumulated the material from external sources.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  3. #123
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    Build your space colony inside an asteroid while you mine it. Not SF anymore, not even silly, just doing business in the 21st century.

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1812.10436

    Stability of a rotating asteroid housing a space station

    Thomas I. Maindl, Roman Miksch, Birgit Loibnegger (Submitted on 26 Dec 2018)

    Today there are numerous studies on asteroid mining. They elaborate on selecting the right objects, prospecting missions, potential asteroid redirection, and the mining process itself. For economic reasons, most studies focus on mining candidates in the 100-500m size-range. Also, suggestions regarding the design and implementation of space stations or even colonies inside the caverns of mined asteroids exist. Caverns provide the advantages of confined material in near-zero gravity during mining and later the hull will shield the inside from radiation. Existing studies focus on creating the necessary artificial gravity by rotating structures that are built inside the asteroid. Here, we assume the entire mined asteroid to rotate at a sufficient rate for artificial gravity and investigate its use for housing a habitat inside. In this study we present how to estimate the necessary spin rate assuming a cylindrical space station inside a mined asteroid and discuss the implications arising from substantial material stress given the required rotation rate. We estimate the required material strength using two relatively simple analytical models and apply them to fictitious, yet realistic rocky near-Earth asteroids.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  4. #124
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    You've got to take a look at this. LOTS of maps of Ceres, of every conceivable sort, in full color. LARGE file to download, but so worth it.


    https://arxiv.org/abs/1812.08361

    Spectrophotometric Modeling and Mapping of Ceres

    Jian-Yang Li, et al. (Submitted on 20 Dec 2018 (v1), last revised 23 Dec 2018 (this version, v2))

    We report a comprehensive analysis of the global spectrophotometric properties of Ceres using Dawn Framing Camera images collected from April to June 2015 during the RC3 and Survey mission phases. The single-scattering albedo of Ceres at 555 nm is 0.14± 0.04, the geometric albedo is 0.096± 0.006, and the Bond albedo is 0.037± 0.002. The asymmetry factors calculated from the best-fit two-term Henyey-Greenstein (HG) single-particle phase function (SPPF) show a wavelength dependence, suggesting that the phase reddening of Ceres is dominated by single-particle scattering rather than multiple scattering or small-scale surface roughness. The Hapke roughness parameter of Ceres is derived to be 20 ∘ ± 6 ∘ with no wavelength dependence. The phase function of Ceres shows appreciably strong scattering around 90 ∘ phase angle that cannot be fitted with a single-term HG SPPF, suggesting possible stronger forward scattering than other asteroids previously analyzed with spacecraft data. We speculate that such a scattering characteristic of Ceres might be related to its unique surface composition. We grouped the reflectance data into a 1 ∘ latitude-longitude grid and fitted each grid independently to study the spatial variations of photometric properties. The albedo and color maps are consistent with previous studies. The SPPF over the surface of Ceres shows stronger backscattering associated with lower albedo and vice versa, consistent with the general trend among asteroids. The Hapke roughness parameter does not vary much across the surface of Ceres, except for the ancient Vendimia Planitia region that has a slightly higher roughness. Based on the wavelength dependence of the SPPF of Ceres, we hypothesize that its regolith grains either contain a considerable fraction of ⪅μ m-sized particles, or are strongly affected by internal scatterers of this size.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  5. #125
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    An Earth-orbit lab for your asteroid-mining research.

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1812.11663

    An On-Orbit CubeSat Centrifuge for Asteroid Science and Exploration

    Jekan Thangavelautham, Erik Asphaug, Stephen Schwartz (Submitted on 31 Dec 2018)

    There are thousands of asteroids in near-Earth space and millions expected in the Main Belt. They are diverse in their physical properties and compositions. They are also time capsules of the early Solar System making them valuable for planetary science, and are strategic for resource mining, planetary defense/security and as interplanetary depots. But we lack direct knowledge of the geophysical behavior of an asteroid surface under milligravity conditions, and therefore landing on an asteroid and manipulating its surface material remains a daunting challenge.

    Towards this goal we are putting forth plans for a 12U CubeSat that will be in Low Earth Orbit and that will operate as a spinning centrifuge on-orbit. In this paper, we will present an overview of the systems engineering and instrumentation design on the spacecraft. Parts of this 12U CubeSat will contain a laboratory that will recreate asteroid surface conditions by containing crushed meteorite. The laboratory will spin at 1 to 2 RPM during the primary mission to simulate surface conditions of asteroids 2 km and smaller, followed by an extended mission where the spacecraft will spin at even higher RPM. The result is a bed of realistic regolith, the environment that landers and diggers and maybe astronauts will interact with. The CubeSat is configured with cameras, lasers, actuators and small mechanical instruments to both observe and manipulate the regolith at low simulated gravity conditions. A series of experiments will measure the general behavior, internal friction, adhesion, dilatancy, coefficients of restitution and other parameters that can feed into asteroid surface dynamics simulations. Effective gravity can be varied, and external mechanical forces can be applied.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  6. #126
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    Quote Originally Posted by Roger E. Moore View Post
    Build your space colony inside an asteroid while you mine it. Not SF anymore, not even silly, just doing business in the 21st century.

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1812.10436

    Stability of a rotating asteroid housing a space station

    Thomas I. Maindl, Roman Miksch, Birgit Loibnegger (Submitted on 26 Dec 2018)

    Today there are numerous studies on asteroid mining. They elaborate on selecting the right objects, prospecting missions, potential asteroid redirection, and the mining process itself. For economic reasons, most studies focus on mining candidates in the 100-500m size-range. Also, suggestions regarding the design and implementation of space stations or even colonies inside the caverns of mined asteroids exist. Caverns provide the advantages of confined material in near-zero gravity during mining and later the hull will shield the inside from radiation. Existing studies focus on creating the necessary artificial gravity by rotating structures that are built inside the asteroid. Here, we assume the entire mined asteroid to rotate at a sufficient rate for artificial gravity and investigate its use for housing a habitat inside. In this study we present how to estimate the necessary spin rate assuming a cylindrical space station inside a mined asteroid and discuss the implications arising from substantial material stress given the required rotation rate. We estimate the required material strength using two relatively simple analytical models and apply them to fictitious, yet realistic rocky near-Earth asteroids.
    Well...I'd been wondering the same. I did not really look at the math but followed the gist.

    I thought asteroids were an amalgam of smaller chunks.
    Would rotating an asteroid cause huge debris problems or would the debris seem to float about because it separates, thus little speed?
    I get the advantage of shielding but it may be more challenging than a standalone rotating platform.

  7. #127
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    Quote Originally Posted by 7cscb View Post
    I thought asteroids were an amalgam of smaller chunks.
    Would rotating an asteroid cause huge debris problems or would the debris seem to float about because it separates, thus little speed?
    I get the advantage of shielding but it may be more challenging than a standalone rotating platform.
    I was thinking that coating the outside of a rubble-pile asteroid with a rubbery "skin" would keep parts of it from flying away, cut down on orbiting debris and dust, and so forth while it was being mined from one end.
    Last edited by Roger E. Moore; 2019-Jan-03 at 09:03 PM. Reason: correction
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  8. #128
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    I want four of those bags, for the bola idea I mentioned above: https://forum.cosmoquest.org/showthr...51#post2464951

    Pull the two together to get art' gravity that way. On the spinward side of the two bola ends, you have empty bags filled with refined, sorted material. As the raw bags empty--the outer bags fill.

  9. #129
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    For now, American commercial space mining companies, have hit a brick wall in terms of $$$ to support them.

    http://www.thespacereview.com/article/3633/1

    Of all the market being pursued by space startups in the last decade, asteroid mining was perhaps the longest-term, and maybe also the most far-fetched. While space tourism has struggled to get off the ground the business case is clear once companies like Blue Origin and Virgin Galactic start flying—which may finally happen this year. Constellations of small satellites for remote sensing or broadband communications are taking shape now, stimulating demand for new launch vehicles, even if the supply of such vehicles is likely to exceed any reasonable demand forecast. Asteroid mining, though, required the patience to develop technologies to prospect, and then extract, resources like volatiles from asteroids, then find in-space applications for them.

    Yet those obstacles didn’t stop two companies several years ago from starting up with goals of harvesting resources from asteroids. First came Planetary Resources, which announced plans in 2012 to develop asteroid mining systems , with the backing of prominent business people (see “Planetary Resources believes asteroid mining has come of age”, The Space Review, April 30, 2012.) Nine months later, Deep Space Industries (DSI) announces its own, similar asteroid mining plans (see “Asteroid mining boom or bubble?”, The Space Review, January 28, 2013.)

    Six years later, the answer to the question posed in that headline is clearly “bubble.” In just two months, both DSI and Planetary Resources, which struggled to raise money and even shifted focus away from asteroid mining, have been acquired by other companies. Their plans to harvest the riches of the solar system are on hold, perhaps indefinitely.

    On New Year’s Day, Bradford Space announced its acquisition of DSI. Bradford, owned by a US investment group, the American Industrial Acquisition Corporation, but with facilities in Europe, manufactures spacecraft components, including a non-toxic propulsion system called ECAPS.
    I am because we are
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  10. #130
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    Things have been tough for Deep Space Industries as well as Planetary Resources. See The Asteroid Mining Bubble Has Burst

    I had some hopes Bridenstine would invest in technologies that made profitable exploitation of space more doable. But I don't see much interest in Near Earth Asteroids. The Asteroid Redirect Mission still seems very much out of favor.

    Scouting for potential asteroids to mine would be greatly enhanced by an orbital scope as proposed by Amy Mainzer. This would also give us a much better inventory of Chelyabinsk and Tunguska sized asteroids (a.k.a. potential city killers). But again, don't see this pinging on the Decadal Survey discussion.

  11. #131
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    Three papers (out on the same day) on new ways of detecting small bodies moving slowly in the solar system. First, a new computer program that finds more undiscovered KBOs than anything else out there. I imagine it might be modified to find asteroids and Centaurs, too.

    ====

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1901.02492

    Fast algorithms for slow moving asteroids: constraints on the distribution of Kuiper Belt Objects

    Peter J. Whidden, et al. (Submitted on 8 Jan 2019)

    We introduce a new computational technique for searching for faint moving sources in astronomical images. Starting from a maximum likelihood estimate for the probability of the detection of a source within a series of images, we develop a massively parallel algorithm for searching through candidate asteroid trajectories that utilizes Graphics Processing Units (GPU). This technique can search over 10^10 possible asteroid trajectories in stacks of the order 10-15 4K x 4K images in under a minute using a single consumer grade GPU. We apply this algorithm to data from the 2015 campaign of the High Cadence Transient Survey (HiTS) obtained with the Dark Energy Camera (DECam). We find 39 previously unknown Kuiper Belt Objects in the 150 square degrees of the survey. Comparing these asteroids to an existing model for the inclination distribution of the Kuiper Belt we demonstrate that we recover a KBO population above our detection limit consistent with previous studies. Software used in this analysis is made available as an open source package.

    QUOTE: In this paper we presented a new algorithm that uses the power of GPU processing to search for slow moving sources across a sequence of images. Our approach is capable of searching over 10^10 candidate moving object trajectories in one minute. Applying these techniques to existing data we discovered 39 new KBOs and the recovered 6 KBOs already present in the Minor Planet Center catalogs.

    ====

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1901.02545

    NEARBY Platform: Algorithm for Automated Asteroids Detection in Astronomical Images

    T. Stefanut, V. Bacu, C. Nandra, D. Balasz, D. Gorgan, O. Vaduvescu (Submitted on 8 Jan 2019)

    In the past two decades an increasing interest in discovering Near Earth Objects has been noted in the astronomical community. Dedicated surveys have been operated for data acquisition and processing, resulting in the present discovery of over 18.000 objects that are closer than 30 million miles of Earth. Nevertheless, recent events have shown that there still are many undiscovered asteroids that can be on collision course to Earth. This article presents an original NEO detection algorithm developed in the NEARBY research object, that has been integrated into an automated MOPS processing pipeline aimed at identifying moving space objects based on the blink method. Proposed solution can be considered an approach of Big Data processing and analysis, implementing visual analytics techniques for rapid human data validation.

    =======


    https://arxiv.org/abs/1901.02542

    Asteroids Detection Technique: Classic "Blink" An Automated Approch [sic]

    D. Copandean, C. Nandra, D. Gorgan, O. Vaduvescu (Submitted on 8 Jan 2019)

    Asteroids detection is a very important research field that received increased attention in the last couple of decades. Some major surveys have their own dedicated people, equipment and detection applications, so they are discovering Near Earth Asteroids (NEAs) daily. The interest in asteroids is not limited to those major surveys, it is shared by amateurs and mini-surveys too. A couple of them are using the few existent software solutions, most of which are developed by amateurs. The rest obtain their results in a visual manner: they "blink" a sequence of reduced images of the same field, taken at a specific time interval, and they try to detect a real moving object in the resulting animation. Such a technique becomes harder with the increase in size of the CCD cameras. Aiming to replace manual detection, we propose an automated "blink" technique for asteroids detection.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  12. #132
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    Steampunk spacecraft in the asteroid belt. Really.

    https://phys.org/news/2019-01-steam-...y-explore.html

    Steam-propelled spacecraft prototype can theoretically explore celestial objects "forever"
    January 11, 2019 by Zenaida Gonzalez Kotala, University of Central Florida

    Using steam to propel a spacecraft from asteroid to asteroid is now possible, thanks to a collaboration between a private space company and the University of Central Florida. UCF planetary research scientist Phil Metzger worked with Honeybee Robotics of Pasadena, California, which developed the World Is Not Enough spacecraft prototype that extracts water from asteroids or other planetary bodies to generate steam and propel itself to its next mining target.

    UCF provided the simulated asteroid material and Metzger did the computer modeling and simulation necessary before Honeybee created the prototype and tried out the idea in its facility Dec. 31. The team also partnered with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach, Florida, to develop initial prototypes of steam-based rocket thrusters.

    "It's awesome," Metzger says of the demonstration. "WINE successfully mined the soil, made rocket propellant, and launched itself on a jet of steam extracted from the simulant. We could potentially use this technology to hop on the Moon, Ceres, Europa, Titan, Pluto, the poles of Mercury, asteroids—anywhere there is water and sufficiently low gravity."
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  13. #133
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    Exploration of an asteroid would be a lot better with a swarm instead of a spacecraft, or so this paper says.

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1902.02084

    Spacecraft Swarm Attitude Control for Small Body Surface Observation

    Ravi Nallapu, Jekan Thangavelautham (Submitted on 6 Feb 2019)

    Understanding the physics of small bodies such as asteroids, comets, and planetary moons will help us understand the formation of the solar system, and also provide us with resources for a future space economy. Due to these reasons, missions to small bodies are actively being pursued. However, the surfaces of small bodies contain unpredictable and interesting features such as craters, dust, and granular matter, which need to be observed carefully before a lander mission is even considered. This presents the need for a surveillance spacecraft to observe the surface of small bodies where these features exist. While traditionally, the small body exploration has been performed by a large monolithic spacecraft, a group of small, low-cost spacecraft can enhance the observational value of the mission. Such a spacecraft swarm has the advantage of providing longer observation time and is also tolerant to single point failures. In order to optimize a space-craft swarm mission design, we proposed the Integrated Design Engineering & Automation of Swarms (IDEAS) software which will serve as an end-to-end tool for theoretical swarm mission design. The current work will focus on developing the Automated Swarm Designer module of the IDEAS software by extending its capabilities for exploring surface features on small bodies while focusing on the attitude behaviors of the spacecraft in the swarm. We begin by classifying space-craft swarms into 5 classes based on the level of coordination. In the current work, we design Class 2 swarms, whose spacecraft operate in a decentralized fashion but coordinate for communication. We demonstrate the Class 2 swarm in 2 different configurations, based on the roles of the participating spacecraft.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  14. #134
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    Ceres is not the dead world we had always thought it would be. This is a weird planet indeed.

    https://phys.org/news/2019-02-insula...-millions.html

    Insulating crust kept cryomagma liquid for millions of years on nearby dwarf planet
    February 12, 2019, University of Texas at Austin

    A recent NASA mission to the dwarf planet Ceres found brilliant, white spots of salts on its surface. New research led by The University of Texas at Austin in partnership with NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) delved into the factors that influenced the volcanic activity that formed the distinctive spots and that could play a key role in mixing the ingredients for life on other worlds. The volcanoes on Ceres are cryovolcanoes, a type of volcano that forms on planetary bodies with icy shells and that moves salty water known as cryomagma from underground reservoirs to the surface. Scientists think that cryovolcanoes on Jupiter's icy moon Europa could help foster chemical mixing that could make complex molecules needed for life. Learning more about how these volcanoes work on Ceres—which is a simpler geological environment than Europa—could help scientists get a handle on the primary forces that drive their activity.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  15. #135
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    Hopping around on an asteroid takes more planning than we imagined it would.


    https://techxplore.com/news/2019-02-...irregular.html

    An approach for motion planning on asteroid surfaces with irregular gravity fields
    by Ingrid Fadelli , Tech Xplore
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

  16. #136
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    Earth's Trojans: Gotta catch 'em all! (well, that is what he's arguing)

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1903.01922

    The Case for a Deep Search for Earth's Trojan Asteroids

    Renu Malhotra (Submitted on 5 Mar 2019)

    The existence of Earth's Trojan asteroids is not well constrained and represents a major gap in our inventory of small bodies in near-Earth space. Their discovery would be of high scientific and human interest.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    — Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

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