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Thread: Asteroid mining

  1. #91
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    Thanks for the articles. It will take me a few months to be able to go through them

    My personal view is, it will take off within the next few years. Main players will be the American commercial companies and China.

  2. #92
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    Quote Originally Posted by selvaarchi View Post
    My personal view is, it will take off within the next few years. Main players will be the American commercial companies and China.
    Totally agree with you. Probably start with recovery of 1-3 meter diameter metallic body (major $$$) and move on from there.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
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  3. #93
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    Recently, we had a (real, not a lost rocket booster) second moon, and it caused a stir of interest in the exploration/capture/mining community....


    https://www.lpi.usra.edu/meetings/acm2008/pdf/8297.pdf

    Photometry of Asteroid 2006 RH120 During Its Short Visit to a Geocentric Orbit

    Kwiatkowski, T.; Kryszczynska, A.; Polinska, M.; Buckley, D.; O'Donaghue, D.; Charles, P.; Crause, L.; Crawford, S.; Hashimoto, Y.; Kniazev, A.; Loaring, N.; Romero Colmenero, E.; Sefako, R.; Still, M.; Vaisanen, P.
    00/2008

    On 14 September 2006 a new near-Earth asteroid was found by the Catalina Sky Survey. During the next two weeks new astrometric observations were obtained by several stations which allowed determination of orbital elements. It appeared this several meters in diameter object was moving on a geocentric orbit which suggested it was a space debris. As a result it was given a designation 6R10DB9 and classified as a Distant Artificial Satellite (DSO). In December 2006 new astrometric observations allowed to compute a more accurate orbit of 6R10DB9. It appeared one of the parameters of the orbital fit, the area to mas ratio (ARM), was found to be much smaller than typical values for artificial satellites (Bill Grey, personal communication). This rose suspection 6R10DB9 could actually be a natural body and not some burnedout rocket booster. Recently the natural origin of 6R10DB9 has been confirmed (mainly thanks to radar observations by Lance Benner et al.) and its official designation is now 2006 RH120. The object has left the geocentric orbit and is unavailable for further studies

    ===========================

    http://cdsads.u-strasbg.fr/cgi-bin/n...;filetype=.pdf

    Rendezvous missions with minimoons from L1

    Chyba, M.; Haberkorn, T.; Patterson, G.
    07/2014

    We propose to present asteroid capture missions with the so-called minimoons. Minimoons are small asteroids that are temporarily captured objects on orbits in the Earth-Moon system. It has been suggested that, despite their small capture probability, at any time there are one or two meter diameter minimoons, and progressively greater numbers at smaller diameters. The minimoons orbits differ significantly from elliptical orbits which renders a rendezvous mission more challenging, however they offer many advantages for such missions that overcome this fact. First, they are already on geocentric orbits which results in short duration missions with low Delta-v, this translates in cost efficiency and low-risk targets. Second, beside their close proximity to Earth, an advantage is their small size since it provides us with the luxury to retrieve the entire asteroid and not only a sample of material. Accessing the interior structure of a near-Earth satellite in its morphological context is crucial to an in-depth analysis of the structure of the asteroid. Historically, 2006 RH120 is the only minimoon that has been detected but work is ongoing to determine which modifications to current observation facilities is necessary to provide detection algorithm capabilities. In the event that detection is successful, an efficient algorithm to produce a space mission to rendezvous with the detected minimoon is highly desirable to take advantage of this opportunity. This is the main focus of our work. For the design of the mission we propose the following. The spacecraft is first placed in hibernation on a Lissajoux orbit around the liberation point L1 of the Earth-Moon system. We focus on eight-shaped Lissajoux orbits to take advantage of the stability properties of their invariant manifolds for our transfers since the cost to minimize is the spacecraft fuel consumption. Once a minimoon has been detected we must choose a point on its orbit to rendezvous (in position and velocities) with the spacecraft. This is determined using a combination of distance between the minimoon's orbit to L1 and its energy level with respect to the Lissajoux orbit on which the spacecraft is hibernating. Once the spacecraft rendezvous with the minimoon, it will escort the temporarily captured object to analyze it until the withdrawal time when the spacecraft exits the orbit to return to its hibernating location awaiting for another minimoon to be detected. The entire mission including the return portion can be stated as an optimal control problem, however we choose to break it into smaller sub-problems as a first step to be refined later. To model our control system, we use the circular three-body problem since it provides a good approximation in the vicinity of the Earth-Moon dynamics. Expansion to more refined models will be considered once the problem has been solved for this first approximation. The problem is solved in several steps. First, we consider the time minimal problem since we will use a multiple of it for the minimal fuel consumption problem with fixed time. The techniques used to produce the transfers involve an indirect method based on the necessary optimality condition of the Pontriagyn maximum principle coupled with a continuation method to address the sensitivity of the numerical algorithm to initial values. Time local optimality is verified by computing the Jacobi fields of the Hamiltonian system associated to our optimal control problem to check the second-order conditions of optimality and determine the non-existence of conjugate points.

    =============================

    https://www.cambridge.org/core/journ...91F3966DC5D731

    Small asteroids temporarily captured in the Earth-Moon system

    Jedicke, Robert; Bolin, Bryce; Bottke, William F.; Chyba, Monique; Fedorets, Grigori; Granvik, Mikael; Patterson, Geoff
    01/2016

    We present an update on our work on understanding the population of natural objects that are temporarily captured in the Earth-Moon system like the 2-3 meter diameter, 2006 RH120, that was discovered by the Catalina Sky Survey. We use the term `minimoon' to refer to objects that are gravitationally bound to the Earth-Moon system, make at least one revolution around the barycenter in a co-rotating frame relative to the Earth-Sun axis, and are within 3 Earth Hill-sphere radii. There are one or two 1 to 2 meter diameter minimoons in the steady state population at any time, and about a dozen larger than 50 cm diameter. `Drifters' are also bound to the Earth-Moon system but make less than one revolution about the barycenter. The combined population of minimoons and drifters provide a new opportunity for scientific exploration of small asteroids and testing concepts for in-situ resource utilization. These objects provide interesting challenges for rendezvous missions because of their limited lifetime and complicated trajectories. Furthermore, they are difficult to detect because they are small, available for a limited time period, and move quickly across the sky.

    ===========================

    http://cdsads.u-strasbg.fr/abs/2015IAUGA..2257052F

    Discovering asteroids temporarily captured by the Earth with LSST

    Fedorets, Grigori; Granvik, Mikael; Jones, Lynne; Jedicke, Robert
    08/2015

    Granvik et al. (2012, Icarus 218) predict that there is a population of small asteroids orbiting the Earth at any given time. These asteroids have been temporarily captured by the Earth from the much larger population of near-Earth asteroids. Temporarily-captured asteroids have elliptic geocentric orbits and come to within 0.03 au from the Earth. We divide the population into temporarily-captured orbiters (TCOs, or minimoons) that make at least one full revolution around the Earth, and into temporarily-captured flybys (TCFs) which make less than one revolution around the Earth. Recent results suggest that at any given time there is one 2--3-meter-diameter asteroid captured on a geocentric orbit within 0.03 au from the Earth (Fedorets et al., in preparation). At any given time, there is a dozen 1-meter-diameter captured asteroids, 2--3 of which are TCFs.The Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) will become operational in early 2020's. LSST is expected cover the available sky from its location in Chile every 4 nights for the duration of a 10 years. The observational cadence combined with the expected limited magnitude, r=24.5, suggest that LSST will detect a new minimoon once a month (Bolin et al. 2014, Icarus 241). Only one minimoon, asteroid 2006 RH120, has so far been discovered (Kwiatkowski et al. 2009, A&A 495).Whereas Bolin et al. (2014, Icarus 241) investigated possibilities for detecting minimoons by current and upcoming survey telescopes we extend the analysis to include the linking of minimoon detections, that is, aiming at extracting minimoon trajectories and, further, minimoon orbits from LSST data. We will test the performance of the current LSST pipeline with simulated TCO and TCF data assuming a realistic magnitude distribution derived from a novel NEO model by Granvik et al. (in preparation).Proving that minimoons can be discovered using LSST data will increase the scientific interest towards them, perhaps primarily as a population of asteroids in near-Earth space that are easily-accessible by future space missions.

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    https://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...852?via%3Dihub

    Rendezvous missions to temporarily captured near Earth asteroids

    Brelsford, S.; Chyba, M.; Haberkorn, T.; Patterson, G.
    04/2016

    Missions to rendezvous with or capture an asteroid present significant interest both from a geophysical and safety point of view. They are key to the understanding of our solar system and are stepping stones for interplanetary human flight. In this paper, we focus on a rendezvous mission with 2006 RH120, an asteroid classified as a Temporarily Captured Orbiter (TCO). TCOs form a new population of near Earth objects presenting many advantages toward that goal. Prior to the mission, we consider the spacecraft hibernating on a Halo orbit around the Earth-Moon's L2 libration point. The objective is to design a transfer for the spacecraft from the parking orbit to rendezvous with 2006 RH120 while minimizing the fuel consumption. Our transfers use indirect methods, based on the Pontryagin Maximum Principle, combined with continuation techniques and a direct method to address the sensitivity of the initialization. We demonstrate that a rendezvous mission with 2006 RH120 can be accomplished with low delta-v. This exploratory work can be seen as a first step to identify good candidates for a rendezvous on a given TCO trajectory.
    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. #94
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    https://catalog.mines.edu/graduate/p...ces/#majortext

    Asteroid miners, thanks to the Colorado School of Mines, this is your lucky day.

    ==============

    Space Resources

    Overview: Programs in Space Resources

    This program is targeted to train recent graduates, as well as professionals interested in expanding their knowledge and skills to address the opportunities and challenges in space resource exploration and utilization. A 12-credit hour Post-Baccalaureate Certificate will require a set of three core courses (8 credit hours) taught by the program, a required 1-credit hour seminar course, and a technical elective chosen from a few selected key disciplines. These courses will also form a required set of core courses for the MS-NT program and for Ph.D. students entering the program without a relevant M.S. degree.

    For the M.S. degree program, in addition to the 12 credit hours, an additional program design course will be required. Beyond that, students will take elective courses taught by departments from around the campus in one or more of five tracks as listed here:
    • Remote Sensing, Prospecting, and Resource Assessment;
    • Resource Extraction, Material Processing, and Refining;
    • Power and Energy;
    • Robotics, Autonomy, and Communications;
    • Economics and Policy.

    These tracks will facilitate students’ focusing on critical technical topics in space resources including resource assessment, prospecting, materials extraction and processing, telecommunications, control and automation, power systems management, and techno-economic analysis. Students in the MS-NT and Ph.D. programs will have at least two project-oriented design and analysis courses, where students will practice design and system analysis in space systems for responsible exploration and stewardship of space resources. A student who completes a Ph.D. in Space Resources will possess all the training of a Master’s degree holder with further specialization in one or more areas within the space resources field. The completed doctoral dissertation will make original contributions to the field.

    The curricula for the graduate program in Space Resources will engage disciplines from all three Colleges at Mines – the College of Engineering and Computational Sciences (CECS), the College of Earth Resource Sciences and Engineering (CERSE), and the College of Applied Science and Engineering (CASE). Space Resources touches on physical sciences, engineering, and social science/policy fields and thus, interdisciplinary training and community is necessary to support a vibrant and successful degree program. As such, this program can only be successful as an interdisciplinary degree program with a Faculty Executive Committee of engaged members from many academic Departments.

    The graduate program for Space Resources will include the following
    • a 12-credit-hour post-baccalaureate Certificate in Space Resources offered online,
    • a 30-credit Master of Science Non-Thesis (MS-NT) degree in Space Resources with some online course offerings for students to complete the degree remotely,
    • a Ph.D. program in Space Resources requiring 36 credit hours of coursework, 36 credit hours of research, and the standard on-campus residency requirement.

    Post-baccalaureate Certificate

    This option will require the students to take 12 credit hours and involve course which will all be offered online. Currently, the online offerings will be in a synchronous manner to foster critical community building within the program. The courses will be offered in both Fall and Spring semesters.

    Table 1 lists the courses that will comprise the curriculum for the 12-credit hour Certificate. The program faculty will offer the first four program specific courses synchronously online every semester.

    The SPRS591 project course will be directed by a program faculty member, who will collaborate with partnering companies to develop non-proprietary design projects and economic feasibility studies for students to participate in and learn through a space-oriented design and/or analysis study. The SPRS503 course will be a required seminar course which can be attended remotely wherein students will listen to monthly distinguished speakers in the field and in off weeks present to each other about research and development in the Space Resources field related to their own work and interests.
    Last edited by Roger E. Moore; 2018-Aug-28 at 12:17 PM.
    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. #95
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    And here's what you can do with your degree....


    https://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...97X?via%3Dihub

    Availability and delta-v requirements for delivering water extracted from near-Earth objects to cis-lunar space

    Jedicke, Robert; Sercel, Joel; Gillis-Davis, Jeffrey; Morenz, Karen J.; Gertsch, Leslie
    09/2018

    We have calculated the number of water-bearing near-Earth objects as a function of return-trip delta-v (DeltavRT). First, we combined a model of the near-Earth object's (NEO) orbit and size-frequency distribution with other measurements of their provenance, and the taxonomic distribution of asteroids in the NEO's main belt sources, to calculate the taxonomic distribution of NEOs as a function of their orbital elements and size. Our calculations are in agreement with recent measurements of the ratio of C- and S-complex bodies within the population of small NEOs. Then we developed a simplified mission model to calculate an upper limit on DeltavRT for a mission from an NEO to distant retrograde lunar orbit (DRLO) in cis-lunar space. Combining the first two steps allowed us to develop a synthetic population of low DeltavRT NEOs that includes their taxonomic distribution. Finally, we used measurements of the water-bearing content of the taxonomic classes based on their assumed meteorite associations to calculate the number of water-bearing NEOs as a function of DeltavRT . We find that there are likely thousands of H2O-rich NEOs larger than about 5 m diameter with DeltavRT ≲ 3kms-1 and the number of objects increases as DeltavRT3 . The rapid increase in the number of objects with DeltavRT suggests that in-situ resource utilization (ISRU) of asteroid-derived water can expand quickly throughout the solar system. NEOs with DeltavRT ≲ 3kms-1 tend to be on Earth-like orbits with semi-major axes a ~ 1au , eccentricities e≳ 0 , and inclinations i≳0o . The small, dark, low DeltavRT NEOs are difficult or impossible to detect with Earth-based telescopes because many orbit the Sun interior to Earth's orbit and others have such long synodic periods that they are rarely visible.

    =====================

    https://arxiv.org/abs/1808.05099

    Asteroid mining with small spacecraft and its economic feasibility

    Pablo Calla, Dan Fries, Chris Welch
    (Submitted on 15 Aug 2018)

    Asteroid mining offers the possibility to revolutionize supply and availability of many resources vital for human civilization. Analysis suggests that Near-Earth Asteroids (NEA) contain enough volatile and high value minerals to make the mining process economically feasible. Considering possible applications, specifically the mining of water in space has become a major focus for near-term options. Most proposed projects for asteroid mining, however, involve spacecraft based on traditional designs resulting in large, monolithic and expensive systems.
    An alternative approach is presented in this paper, basing the asteroid mining process on multiple small spacecraft, i.e. a decentralized architecture. To the best knowledge of the authors, limited thorough analysis of the asteroid mining capability of small spacecraft has been conducted. This paper explores the lower limit of spacecraft size for asteroid mining operations. After defining a feasible miniaturized spacecraft design, capable of extracting water from asteroids and transporting it to an appropriate orbit, a high-level economic analysis is performed. This analysis reveals several key constraints in making near-term asteroid mining financially sustainable under the assumptions given in this study.
    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. #96
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    More detail and a direct link on a previous mentioned paper...

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/scienc...277?via%3Dihub

    Asteroid engineering: The state-of-the-art of Near-Earth Asteroids science and technology

    Anthony, Niklas; Emami, M. Reza
    06/2018

    This paper presents a comprehensive review of the science and technology of accessing near-Earth asteroids (NEAs), or making them accessible, for obtaining both information and resources. The survey is divided into four major groups of NEA study, namely a) discovery (population estimation and detection), b) Exploration (identification and characterization), c) deflection and redirection, and d) mining (prospecting, excavation, processing, refining, storage.). Recent research and development advancements from both industry and academia are discussed in each group, and certain specific future directions are highlighted. Some concluding remarks are made at the end, including the need for creating new educational programs to train competent engineers and researchers for the taskforce in the new field of asteroid engineering in near future.

    Abstract
    Keywords
    Abbreviations

    1. Introduction

    2. Asteroid discovery
    2.1. Asteroid population estimation
    2.2. Asteroid detection
    2.2.1. Detection methods
    2.2.2. Automated telescopes
    2.2.3. Ground-based NEA surveys
    2.2.4. Space-based NEA surveys

    3. Asteroid exploration
    3.1. Identification and remote characterization
    3.2. In-situ characterization

    4. Asteroid deflection and redirection
    4.1. Deflection techniques
    4.1.1. Kinetic impactor
    4.1.2. Nuclear blast

    4.2. Redirection methods
    4.2.1. Gravity tractor
    4.2.2. Ion beam
    4.2.3. Tugboat
    4.2.4. Ablation/sublimation
    4.2.5. Mass driver

    4.3. Orbit considerations

    5. Asteroid mining
    5.1. prospecting
    5.2. Excavation
    5.3. Processing
    5.4. Refining
    5.5. Storage

    6. Conclusions
    Appendix A. Supplementary data
    Research Data
    References
    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)

  7. #97
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    General asteroid info relevant to colonization/mining....


    https://arxiv.org/abs/1808.10384

    Long-term orbital and rotational motions of Ceres and Vesta

    T. Vaillant, J. Laskar, N. Rambaux, M. Gastineau
    (Submitted on 30 Aug 2018)

    Context. The dwarf planet Ceres and the asteroid Vesta have been studied by the Dawn space mission. They are the two heaviest bodies of the main asteroid belt and have different characteristics. Notably, Vesta appears to be dry and inactive with two large basins at its south pole. Ceres is an ice-rich body with signs of cryovolcanic activity.
    Aims. The aim of this paper is to determine the obliquity variations of Ceres and Vesta and to study their rotational stability.
    Methods. The orbital and rotational motions have been integrated by symplectic integration. The rotational stability has been studied by integrating secular equations and by computing the diffusion of the precession frequency.
    Results. The obliquity variations of Ceres over −20.0Myr are between 2 and 20 deg and the obliquity variations of Vesta are between 21 and 45 deg. The two giant impacts suffered by Vesta modified the precession constant and could have put Vesta closer to the resonance with the orbital frequency 2s 6 −sV. Given the uncertainty on the polar moment of inertia, the present Vesta could be in this resonance, where the obliquity variations can vary between 17 and 48 deg.
    Conclusions. Although Ceres and Vesta have precession frequencies close to the secular orbital frequencies of the inner planets, their long-term rotations are relatively stable. The perturbations of Jupiter and Saturn dominate the secular orbital dynamics of Ceres and Vesta and the perturbations of the inner planets are much weaker. The secular resonances with the inner planets also have smaller widths and do not overlap contrary to the case of the inner planets.
    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. #98
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    "US Geological Survey Hopes to Begin Prospecting for Space Mines Soon"

    http://www.moondaily.com/reports/US_..._Soon_999.html

    The US Geological Survey is looking to expand its scope beyond the United States and into the cosmos, applying its understanding of geology to the search for ? and collection of ? valuable mineral resources from moons, asteroids, comets and planets in outer space.

    The Colorado School of Mines, which offers one of the coolest sounding university degree tracks ever - the Space Resources Program - hosted a Space Resources Roundtable in June, and several USGS officials were present.

    "The space-resources community will benefit greatly from working together with the USGS to assess the location and value of minerals, energy and water on the moon, Mars and asteroids," Angel Abbud-Madrid, director of the Center for Space Resources at the Colorado School of Mines, told the audience at the conference.
    I am because we are
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  9. #99
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    Asteroid miners would like this. It's got water, and you should be able to get it to Mars without (I think) too much trouble. Or sell the water somewhere else. Funny that I am not thinking so much of how to study it or marvel at it so much as I am thinking of how to exploit it.


    https://arxiv.org/abs/1809.02046

    (121514) 1999 UJ7: A primitive, slow-rotating Martian Trojan

    G. Borisov, A. A. Christou, F. Colas, S. Bagnulo, A. Cellino, A. Dell'Oro (Submitted on 6 Sep 2018)

    Aims. The goal of this investigation is to determine the origin and surface composition of the asteroid (121514) 1999 UJ7, the only currently known L4 Martian Trojan asteroid. Methods. We have obtained visible reflectance spectra and photometry of 1999 UJ7 and compared the spectroscopic results with the spectra of a number of taxonomic classes and subclasses. A light curve was obtained and analysed to determine the asteroid spin state. Results. The visible spectrum of 1999 UJ7 exhibits a negative slope in the blue region and the presence of a wide and deep absorption feature centred around ~0.65 microns. The overall morphology of the spectrum seems to suggest a C-complex taxonomy. The photometric behaviour is fairly complex. The light curve shows a primary period of 1.936 d, but this is derived using only a subset of the photometric data. The asteroid may be in a non-principal axis rotational state, but our observational coverage is insufficient to draw definitive conclusions. Conclusions. Although the observed spectral absorption is wider and deeper, this finding may be compatible with the 0.7 microns spectral feature exhibited by some Ch-type asteroids and could possibly be interpreted as diagnostic of the presence of hydrated minerals. The inferred composition of 1999 UJ7 as a primitive object can be consistent with a volatile-rich object originally accreted beyond the snow line of the solar system and subsequently evolved to reach the inner regions of the solar system.
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
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  10. #100
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    Colonizing Ceres got a lot more interesting. A paper in Nature reports the dwarf planet has numerous ice volcanos that, when inactive, slump over time and look like craters after a few million years. Obviously lots of water, not much gravity, no atmosphere, but if you live underground or under domes, it could work.

    https://www.sciencenews.org/article/...f-planet-ceres

    Interactive map was fun.
    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)

  11. #101
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    Occurs to me these ought to be easy to mine, being hardly glued together. Might have to wrap a bag of sorts around them to keep pieces from drifting off during mining operations.


    https://arxiv.org/abs/1810.01815

    Rubble Pile Asteroids

    Kevin J. Walsh (Submitted on 3 Oct 2018)

    The moniker rubble pile is typically applied to all solar system bodies with Diameter between 200m and 10km - where in this size range there is an abundance of evidence that nearly every object is bound primarily by self-gravity with significant void space or bulk porosity between irregularly shaped constituent particles. The understanding of this population is derived from wide-ranging population studies of derived shape and spin, decades of observational studies in numerous wavelengths, evidence left behind from impacts on planets and moons and the in situ study of a few objects via spacecraft flyby or rendezvous. The internal structure, however, which is responsible for the name rubble pile, is never directly observed, but belies a violent history. Many or most of the asteroids on near-Earth orbits, and the ones most accessible for rendezvous and in situ study, are likely byproducts of the continued collisional evolution of the Main Asteroid Belt.
    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. #102
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    Funny to think we are actually looking at asteroid mining as a viable career. Could get rich. More likely to die. But if you get rich....


    https://arxiv.org/abs/1810.03836

    A Techno-Economic Analysis of Asteroid Mining

    Andreas M. Hein, Robert Matheson, Dan Fries (Submitted on 9 Oct 2018)

    Asteroid mining has been proposed as an approach to complement Earth-based supplies of rare earth metals and supplying resources in space, such as water. However, existing studies on the economic viability of asteroid mining have remained rather simplistic and do not provide much guidance on which technological improvements would be needed for increasing its economic viability. This paper develops a techno-economic analysis of asteroid mining with the objective of providing recommendations for future technology development and performance improvements. Both, in-space resource provision such as water and return of platinum to Earth are considered. Starting from first principles of techno-economic analysis, gradually additional economic and technological factors are added to the analysis model. Applied to mining missions involving spacecraft reuse, learning curve effect, and multiple spacecraft, their economic viability is assessed. A sensitivity analysis with respect to throughput rate, spacecraft mass, and resource price is performed. Furthermore, a sample asteroid volatile mining architecture based on small CubeSat-class spacecraft is presented. It is concluded that key technological drivers for asteroid mining missions are throughput rate, number of spacecraft per mission, and the rate in which successive missions are conducted.
    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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