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Space & Astronomy

Are asteroids actually worth mining ?

By T.K. Randall
January 14, 2014 · Comment icon 8 comments

Asteroid mining could begin within the next decade. Image Credit: NASA/Denise Watt
A new study has suggested that very few nearby asteroids are suitable for commercial-scale mining.
Several companies over the last few years have announced plans to turn asteroid mining in to a profitable business venture, yet despite the potential to extract valuable ores from this otherwise untapped resource, doubts have been raised over whether asteroids really hold that much in the way of precious materials in the first place.
In a recent study, astrophysicist Dr Martin Elvis has thrown a spanner in the works by claiming that as few as ten near-Earth asteroids would be suitable for commercial mining operations. His results are at loggerheads with Planetary Resources co-founder Eric Anderson who contends that the actual number of viable asteroids would be closer to one thousand.

Backed by Google executives Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, the company aims to use robots to extract minerals and fuel chemicals from the rocks. Whether mining asteroids in this way will prove to be technologically or economically feasible in the near future however remains to be seen.

Source: BBC News | Comments (8)




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Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #1 Posted by DieChecker 10 years ago
Crud. That was a major point in actually sending people and robot-ships out to explore. That they would be pioneering the way for resource gathering.
Comment icon #2 Posted by GreenmansGod 10 years ago
I sent the eleven your old across the street their job application.
Comment icon #3 Posted by Sundew 10 years ago
As my late father might have said: "Too much sugar for a dime."
Comment icon #4 Posted by Frank Merton 10 years ago
Outer solar system asteroids are another matter and centuries if not further in the future, and they will be mined for water.
Comment icon #5 Posted by paperdyer 10 years ago
We can't let spacecraft re-enter the atmosphere with fuel still in them and we are going to be able to bring fuel chemicals through re-entry?????
Comment icon #6 Posted by Frank Merton 10 years ago
We can't let spacecraft re-enter the atmosphere with fuel still in them and we are going to be able to bring fuel chemicals through re-entry????? Slight difference between uncontrolled crash and controlled landing.
Comment icon #7 Posted by bassai26 10 years ago
If they can why not?better find alternatives to lessen our consumption.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Socio 10 years ago
Crud. That was a major point in actually sending people and robot-ships out to explore. That they would be pioneering the way for resource gathering. I was thinking the Moon would be the best place to start extraterrestrial resource gathering but as luck would have it some environmental groups are already against it, saying due to the moons gravity any mining would cause vast amounts of dust to float up and not settle back down to the ground polluting the moon and rendering it visually unpleasing from the Earth.


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