Asteroid mining is the process of extracting minerals and raw materials from asteroids and some little heavenly bodies including objects that are close to the earth. Hydrogen, iron, water, oxygen, and nickel are some of the materials that are being explored and hoped to mine from asteroid and nearby comet. Water and oxygen are among the list due to the fact that they are necessary to support the lives of prospector-astronauts. These two minerals are also needed for rocket fuel by astronauts.
So, what are asteroids made of? Asteroids include many different things that are in various densities, and each one is predominantly unique. There are many of them that are made of ice, condensed gases, or one metal element. It should be noted that asteroids are by no means equal as they come with different components. Some asteroids contain Rare Earth Elements (REEs). What this refers to is that the elements found on earth’s surface are not that common, they are rare and very hard to get at. In the future, there are possibility of mining asteroid made of gold, titanium, and other exotic elements.
Some experts have observed the earth’s reserve for minerals like lead, indium, gold, copper, silver, indium, tin, and zinc is diminishing, and they may simply disappeared or be exhausted in 50 to 60 years time. Researchers believe that some minerals, including nickel, platinum cobalt, manganese, and a number of other minerals essentially came to earth from a rain of asteroids that occurred some over four billion years ago. This research also confirmed one fact that asteroids do contain minerals and metals.
In addition, mining asteroid is no longer as hard as previously thought. In fact, there is technology capability to mine asteroids. There have been suggestion to insulate it and use out-gases as fuel for driving force and machinery to mine all at once. This will be achieved by towing it or changing its trajectory. The purpose is to mine asteroids for essential minerals that will be used to build colonies, space ships, colonies, and other needed things in the space.
Types of asteroids
So far, there have been three types of asteroids discovered and which are good options for possible mining expeditions. They include the following:
These types of asteroids do not contain much water. However, they are thought to be full of metals including nickel, platinum, gold, cobalt, rhodium and gold. It is generally believed among scientists that a 10-meter S-type asteroid can include a projected 1.4 million pounds of metal. About 110 pounds of this mineral contains rare metals such as platinum and gold.
These types of asteroids are very rare. However, they are of high interest to scientists because they are made of what S-type steroids contain, up to 10 times more metal.
These types are rich in water. Water is not included in the mining prospect. However, it is needed for the sustenance of the people involved in the project. C-type asteroids also include phosphorous and organic carbon which could be used as part of ingredients for fertilizer.
Mining asteroid is an extremely ambitious goal. There are possible mining options which include:
It is true that the world’s need for minerals is daily increasing but, our reserves are thinning. This is the sole reason why asteroids mining are being considered.
Mining asteroid is an extremely ambitious goal. There are possible mining options which include extracting raw asteroid materials to earth and processing them.