Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Mining Asteroids for Resources: Minerals & Water

This is an old post that I moved from another website to this blog.
Original Post Date: 6/6/2013
Image Credit: http://silverunderground.com/2013/01/cosmic-profits-asteroid-mining-companies-headed-to-space/

Introduction

Recently, I've been reading several articles about the possibility of humans mining asteroids for various types of resources, such as water & minerals, in the distant future. However, from now to the time it actually happens, there could be many obstacles ahead of us. It is not just simple stuff like money, either, as the technology has to increase accordingly to the practicality of it all in addition to politics, economics, you name it. Yeah, it is like trying to squeeze a patent in for a ZPE (free energy) device during the 1900s.
Anyway, what really got me about this subject, is all the other topics it dances around. You know, subjects like "why haven't we been back to the moon?" or "where is all these space stations filled with humans and greenhouses that we heard about 20 years ago?" or "why are we wasting all this time & money on Mars missions before the more local projects?" and on and on. Do the aliens really have a dock station on the back side of the moon that never faces Earth and is there really a galactic order being installed from the gray aliens that doesn't allow us to contaminate, oops, I mean explore deep space via manned spaceships? So many questions...
When I talk about money, I mean simple math like if it hypothetically took 2 billion dollars to bring back 4,000 dollars worth of gold, then I think the return on investment would be very sub-par, to say the least.

Mining Asteroids for Resources: Minerals & Water

When it comes to extraction techniques, I've read about the traditional mining by way of robotic drones (surface and shaft mining), magnetic rakes for loose particles, heating methods for volatile materials on dead comets, and I've even read about a theory of self-replicating machines that could be used.
Per Wikipedia: "On April 24, 2012 a plan was announced by billionaire entrepreneurs to mine asteroids for their resources. The company is called Planetary Resources and its founders include aerospace entrepreneurs Eric Anderson and Peter Diamandis. The plan has been met with skepticism by some scientists who do not see it as cost-effective, even though platinum and gold are worth nearly $1,600 per ounce. An upcoming NASA mission (OSIRIS-REx) to return just two ounces of material from an asteroid to Earth will cost about $1 billion USD. Planetary Resources admits that, in order to be successful, it will need to develop technologies that bring the cost of space flight down." Gee, ya think so?
There is no need to cover the subject as to why the mining of asteroids for water and minerals is important, that is, of course, assuming the population on Earth continues to thrive. Now, for the doomsday fanatics and the ones that realize how mankind is slowly destroying this planet (unless we act fast), this topic will not be worth the thoughts. However, if the Homo sapiens do find a way to turn this planet back around and start using clean, efficient alternative fuels, learn how to recycle nearly everything we use and find a way that allows for there to be no starving people on the planet - all while combating the wackjobs that war all the time and threaten with nukes along with the power of greed - then just maybe, future space missions could benefit mankind.

Conclusion

One may ask: I understand the whole mining for minerals thing, but why would we mine asteroids for water? Well, that would be beneficial if we were to have "in-space gas stations,” so to speak, that would take water ice found on asteroids and process it into hydrogen and oxygen for use in rocket fuels. If this is a success, there will be a framework of robotic projects along with human-based missions, to basically turn deep space into prized real estate, more or less. Yeah, what's next? Instead of beach front property to sell, we might have a nice space motel you can rent that is nested 50 miles from an asteroid mining site that is 25 miles from the in-space gas station that sells gravity boosters and frozen doughnuts; ha!
I will say, though, that the concept of mining resources from deep space has been around a long while. It makes for great science fiction flicks and I even remember such things when I used to play galactic strategy games, for example.

I'll drop down a couple more images before I end this post...

A Cool 'Near-Earth' Asteroid Image:
Image Source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/space/6425811/Asteroids-should-be-next-small-step-for-man-in-space-panel-tells-President-Barack-Obama.html   
 
 Asteroid Collision:
Cool artwork featuring an asteroid collision!
Source: http://imagensdouniverso.blogspot.com/2012/04/terra-sofreu-impacto-de-inumeros.html

---End of Post "Mining Asteroids for Resources: Minerals & Water"

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