25 April 2016, 07.53 AM
Asteroid mining, Theory
Minerals in Asteroids
If you are a science fiction fan, then you probably associate asteroids with the destruction of Earth. But many years of studying asteroids showed that there are billions and trillions of dollars’ worth of metals and minerals buried in the ones, which get closer to our planet.
Scientists know a lot about the content of asteroids. They analyze light reflected from their surface by using telescopic spectroscopy. Scientists believe that we can find water, platinum, oxygen and gold on some of them. What interests the space explorers the most is – water. The reason for this is because it could help keeping a space colony alive. Another application of water would be breaking it down into oxygen and hydrogen in order to form rocket engine propellant.
The purpose of asteroid mining is based on terrestrial reserves, and rising consumption in both developed and developing countries. The truth is that important elements for modern industry and production of food could be depleted on our planet within 50-70 years. Such elements are: zinc, phosphorus, silver, gold, antimony, iron, nickel, palladium, manganese, rhenium, rhodium, copper and many others. That is why; it has been suggested gold, cobalt and many other esteemed elements may be delivered from asteroids to our planet.
One of the main problems of asteroid mining is how to prevent and how to deal with the rotation of the asteroids, while they’re being mined. Many suggestions were given by popular scientists. Of course, nobody knows for sure how the first asteroid mine would look like, but some really good suppositions were given, such as: the equipment should be lightweight; the machinery would probably be solar powered; some scientists suggest robotic equipment, in order to limit the amount of supplies needed to carry the mining mission and etc.
The main goal in asteroid mining is transforming asteroid water into rocket fuel, and this is planned to happen within a decade.