View Full Version : Mining Asteroids

2004-Jan-25, 04:01 PM
We have landed on an asteroid - Eros by the NEAR mission, now the next question I have is could we explout the asteroids for their mineral content?

Also, what could hope to attain from the asteroids besides iron and nickel?

2004-Jan-25, 06:23 PM
damienpaul, I turned to my contact Dr. Wood again for this one. We are so appreciative that he is willing share his knowledge with us once again!

We do not yet have more than a rudimentary knowledge of what asteroids and comets might be composed of and that information is derived from chemical analyses of meteorites. We do know that many asteroids are differentiated leaving a lot of heavy metals in their cores (things like iron, nickel, iridium, etc.). This is probably what the first mining expeditions will try to gather. As we become more sophisticated, we might try to extract water and other volatiles from comets. It’s also quite likely that we will find unexpected resources in extraterrestrial environments that might be adapted to terrestrial uses…but we won’t know until we get there.

The advantage of mining the asteroids is that you don’t have to haul materials out of a steep gravity well. It also makes it much more efficient for constructing large spacecraft because then you don’t spend millions of dollars in chemical propellant to lift very dense material into Earth orbit. The disadvantage of mining the asteroids is that the initial operating costs are astronomical (no pun intended) and the short-term benefits are not obvious. It only becomes cost-effective over a timescale of decades.

Dr. Wood

2004-Jan-25, 07:57 PM
Right now, I don't believe it's energetically feasible to mine asteroids and ship the minerals to Earth (or an Earth orbit) ... but I might be wrong.

And I'm not sure that the tech exists yet to produce useful materials from the asteroids themselves.

HOWEVER, I'm a huge believer that the asteroid-mining is an essential step for our species to take. I strongly encourage anyone who wishes to pursue this matter.

The site http://www.permanent.com contains a LOT of information about this topic. Please read, and be informed!

2004-Jan-26, 01:50 AM
Thank you Tinaa, QJones and especially Dr. Wood! Puts an interesting side 'twist' to the base on the moon as a launching point for mining operations.