Friday, October 14, 2016

The issues of space mining

Since the discovery of the asteroid in 1801, people have wondered, what precious minerals are buried deep inside of it? Well now NASA has begun to work with the idea of going up into space and bringing metals from asteroids back down to Earth. Many asteroids are rich in water and contain platinum, which is used in catalytic converters in cell phones. A co-founder of the Planetary Resources thinks that a single asteroid 30 meters in diameter could yield $50 billion of platinum. As propulsion technology has improved, satellite components have become cheaper, which in turn leads to the major research in asteroid mining.
Experts also think that theoretically speaking, asteroid water could be used for a multitude of things such as propellants, shielding, hydration, or fuel for communication satellites. Although, there is a flipside to all of this, a study at Harvard University concluded that many of the asteroids are too small or too barren to contain any valuable metals. Bringing back huge amounts of these precious metals could also drive the price down in the market, which in turn could limit potential profits. Asteroids could also have many unstable surface conditions, so mining them would require many new technological advances. ~ Brandon Smith

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