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Sir, the possibility of successfully navigating an asteroid field is approximately 3720 to 1.
April 20, 2012 12:26 PM   Subscribe

A new Seattle-base company called Planetary Resources (twitter), created by several billionaires, apparently has a lofty goal in mind ... to bring a 500-ton asteroid to Earth by 2025, for the purposes of mining its resources. And according to a recently released report (pdf) by CalTech, it's not all that outlandish an idea.
posted by crunchland (89 comments total) 26 users marked this as a favorite

 
Nothing can go wrong with this plan, I am sure.
posted by Danf at 12:28 PM on April 20, 2012 [14 favorites]


The future is now!
posted by The White Hat at 12:37 PM on April 20, 2012


Twenty years ago (and more) dystopic science fiction was dominated by large corporations... Who would have thought omnipotent billionaires would be running the show. How long until Josef Virek becomes real too.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:39 PM on April 20, 2012 [7 favorites]


You can tell they're serious, because they're using the font from Wall-E.
posted by theodolite at 12:41 PM on April 20, 2012 [6 favorites]


If you need to mine rocks from outer space to get resources, you're doing it wrong.
posted by swift at 12:42 PM on April 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


I've been excited by this all week. Asteroids can (well they must be if you're going to make a profit...) be ridiculously rich in minerals and metals so I am wondering how this would affect the commodity markets.
posted by Foci for Analysis at 12:43 PM on April 20, 2012


So if there is so much potential for profit, why does NASA not want to do this by itself? What role does Planetary Resources play aside from reaping the profits from the culmination of decades of taxpayer funded space tech development? Fuck this. Build your own fucking rockets, Planetary Resources.
posted by Meatbomb at 12:44 PM on April 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Excellent! I support any initiative which brings Slough Feg's Traveller one step closer to reality.
posted by vorfeed at 12:44 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


The idea of asteroid mining as a way of making space profitable is not entirely new, that is for sure. I honestly think that Niven's rock-jocks and singleship captains aren't that too far fetched, given that there are people in the world who single work mines today.
posted by strixus at 12:44 PM on April 20, 2012


This story will be a lot more interesting after Tuesday the 24th, when they have their public reveal.

What I find alarming is that if it's feasible to bring an asteroid into orbit around the earth, it's equally feasible to smash an asteroid into the earth. Probably a little easier, actually.
posted by Nelson at 12:45 PM on April 20, 2012 [13 favorites]


I am wondering how this would affect the commodity markets.

Aluminum, copper, and nickel are all down over the last few days.
posted by The White Hat at 12:46 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you need to mine rocks from outer space to get resources, you're doing it wrong.

I suppose that all depends on what it is you're doing.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 12:47 PM on April 20, 2012


Amazing side note: in 1982 H. Ross Perot Jr. flew around the world in a helicopter in 750 mile chunks (54 stops, from Dallas to Canada to Iceland etc.) and was the first person to every do so.*
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:47 PM on April 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


If they find oil all bets are off.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 12:47 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


That'd be bigger news because it would be proof of extraterrestrial life.
posted by 2bucksplus at 12:50 PM on April 20, 2012 [15 favorites]


They're going to bring a 500-ton asteroid to Earth and put it where, exactly?
posted by Faint of Butt at 12:50 PM on April 20, 2012


Nelson: " What I find alarming is that if it's feasible to bring an asteroid into orbit around the earth, it's equally feasible to smash an asteroid into the earth. Probably a little easier, actually."

Well, what would be the effects of a 500lb asteroid hitting the Earth? We're not looking at a global extinction event, surely. But would it be enough to take out Poughkeepsie?

Hypothetically speaking there could be some useful applications for orbital bombardment here....
posted by zarq at 12:51 PM on April 20, 2012


TED Talks, Boulder, Co, Sept. 2011 : Phil Plait: How to defend Earth from asteroids
posted by crunchland at 12:51 PM on April 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


Faint of Butt: "They're going to bring a 500-ton asteroid to Earth and put it where, exactly?"

If you think finding parking in Midtown Manhattan sucks now....
posted by zarq at 12:51 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


But would it be enough to take out Poughkeepsie?

/fingers crossed
posted by swift at 12:52 PM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Guys, can we wait until the asteroid actually hits Earth to start with the victim blaming?
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:53 PM on April 20, 2012 [5 favorites]


I thought SPECTRE was fictional.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 12:56 PM on April 20, 2012


a lofty goal in mind ... to bring a 500-ton asteroid to Earth by 2025, for the purposes of mining its resources.

My money say the asteroid has other ideas.
posted by Thorzdad at 12:57 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Aluminum, copper, and nickel are all down over the last few days.

Definitely because of someone's "Maybe someday" plans about 2025.
posted by yerfatma at 12:57 PM on April 20, 2012


26 years too early: 2038
posted by Windopaene at 12:58 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


They're going to bring a 500-ton asteroid to Earth and put it where, exactly?

The hypothetical 500-ton asteroid from the Caltech report is seven meters in diameter. You could probably fit it in your house, if you knocked out a ceiling.
posted by theodolite at 1:00 PM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


The price of iron ore is about $150 / ton. I assumed with was a viral for Prometheus.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 1:01 PM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


26 years too early: 2038

Don't worry, 2038 will be interesting no matter what.
posted by yerfatma at 1:01 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


How much energy would it take to actually get the asteroid, bring it back to Earth or moon-orbit, mine the metals, and bring the metals back to Earth?

I suspect the only use this would have is to build a moon base of something. It's going to take many decades until this idea has any practical applications.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:02 PM on April 20, 2012


Bring it right down and into the Indian ship breaking yards in Chittagong. And then call William Gibson.
posted by 2bucksplus at 1:05 PM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


D.D. Harriman will rest peacefully, in his final resting place.
posted by infini at 1:05 PM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


Excellent! I support any initiative which brings Slough Feg's Traveller one step closer to reality.

And Game Designers' Workshop's.
posted by Gelatin at 1:15 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you're capable of maneuvering an asteroid, why wouldn't be easiest and much cheaper to decelerate it enough to crash it somewhere remote at no more than terminal velocity. Then you could just mine it normally.
posted by gilrain at 1:16 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


How much energy would it take to actually get the asteroid, bring it back to Earth or moon-orbit, mine the metals, and bring the metals back to Earth?

Or just launch it into the moon along with a couple hundred of its friends and mine the result. I mean, its not like we'd actually notice a couple hundred more moon craters, right?
posted by Slackermagee at 1:17 PM on April 20, 2012


To borrow a comment of mine from elsewhere:

To me, it's all about the composition of the asteroid that you choose to mine.

In these early days, I think we'll probably be more focused on targets of opportunity, but once the technology base exists to be picky, if you could locate a body full of precious metals, say gold and platinum, it could easily dwarf the earthbound supply.

I think the most interesting opportunities lie not with traditional methods of exploiting these materials, but with the methods we will discover once previously rare materials become abundant and cheap.

Of course, massively devaluing gold/precious-metal-of-choice is going to cause political upheaval and that will have to be dealt with, and while this conjures images of chaos and serious trouble, it doesn't seem like all that big of a deal compared to what will happen when a private entity starts talking about bringing a dinosaur-killer-sized body near the earth.
posted by feloniousmonk at 1:18 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Then comes organlegging and we're going to have to bring Larry Niven back out of retirement. Because it's all fun and games until the Man-Kzin Wars.
posted by GuyZero at 1:20 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Of course, massively devaluing gold/precious-metal-of-choice is going to cause political upheaval and that will have to be dealt with

All things being equal, there are enough problems on the horizon for humanity at the moment that a hypothetical future asteroid base metals market crash is the absolute least of our worries.
posted by KokuRyu at 1:22 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


And Game Designers' Workshop's.

The Slough Feg record is a concept album based on this game.
posted by vorfeed at 1:23 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Excellent! I support any initiative which brings Slough Feg's Traveller one step closer to reality.

OK, HOLY SHIT, the revelation that there's a heavy metal album based on the Traveller RPG makes this the best thread ever.
posted by GuyZero at 1:23 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


According to Wolfram Alpha, if you could find a 500 ton asteroid made entirely out of gold, it would be worth just shy of 24 billion dollars. Would that be enough to make the venture worthwhile, given the risks? I'm inclined to put this in the 'viral advertisement' category, since Cameron's involved.
posted by Pyry at 1:25 PM on April 20, 2012


Much like Spain's discovery of several hundred tons of silver & gold in the New World, a pure gold asteroid would not destroy the earth, it would merely destroy the economy and/or the price of gold.
posted by GuyZero at 1:26 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


Good news for the hundreds of thousands of local people fighting pit mines that threaten their lifestyles.
posted by fshgrl at 1:32 PM on April 20, 2012


it doesn't seem like all that big of a deal compared to what will happen when a private entity starts talking about bringing a dinosaur-killer-sized body near the earth.

I think (hope) that the law catches up to this potential hazard before the talk begins.
posted by IvoShandor at 1:36 PM on April 20, 2012


There are other benefits as well as economic though.

Imagine a world where you can use the best material for the job.
A glut of formerly precious metals means power lines made of silver. Water pipes made of gold, because it's so bendy and nonreactive, or even made of silver, to get the antibacterial properties.

And more than just the precious resources. As much reaction mass as you like which is already outside the earths gravity well.

Hollowed asteroids sealed up and turned into habitats, solar power plants (built on site from local materials and no atmosphere to reduce the power of the sun). By the same logic, orbital farms. Fill them with plants, and use either light tubes or big big windows and you have a low delta V source of oxygen, carbon dioxide, water recycling.

Once you get start using resources without having to boost them out of the gravity well so many opportunities open up.
posted by Just this guy, y'know at 1:37 PM on April 20, 2012 [11 favorites]


I'm not optimistic that we have any law making bodies up to the task of legislating space industry.
posted by feloniousmonk at 1:39 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


The power-lines-made-of-silver angle is exactly what I was talking about above. The opportunities that open up with lower barriers to entry for rare metals are vast. Gold is probably among the least interesting of them.
posted by feloniousmonk at 1:41 PM on April 20, 2012


2bucksplus: "That'd be bigger news because it would be proof of extraterrestrial life."

You think the discovery of extraterrestrial life would be a bigger story than a new source of oil? I envy your optimism.
posted by brundlefly at 1:44 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


500 ton is really quite small. the USA alone mines almost that in Gold in just the last year. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gold_mining_in_the_United_States

Given the costs involved I don't see how that could be profitable at all. And as to crashing that into earth. I'd think that most of it would burn up on entry. wouldn't it?

What is the typical size of an asteroid entering earths atmosphere?
posted by mary8nne at 1:47 PM on April 20, 2012


I can't speak to the veracity of the cited sources, but Wikipedia has this to say: "At 1997 prices, a relatively small metallic asteroid with a diameter of 1.6 km (0.99 mi) contains more than 20 trillion US dollars worth of industrial and precious metals."
posted by feloniousmonk at 1:51 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


mary8nne: I'd think that most of it would burn up on entry. wouldn't it? What is the typical size of an asteroid entering earths atmosphere?

They burn up because they're moving so fast that the heat from friction produced is immense. If they can maneuver the asteroid, though, then presumably they can slow it down as they guide it into the atmosphere. At terminal velocity, it shouldn't be an issue.
posted by gilrain at 1:52 PM on April 20, 2012


I'm so happy I can put this quotation right here.

You may have trouble getting permission to aero or lithobrake asteroids on Earth.
— James Nicoll (source)
posted by tykky at 2:03 PM on April 20, 2012 [4 favorites]


"lithobrake".

Nice.
posted by GuyZero at 2:04 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


a relatively small metallic asteroid with a diameter of 1.6 km (0.99 mi) contains more than 20 trillion US dollars worth of industrial and precious metals.

Okay, but this one's only 7 meters across. That's basically beer money.
posted by echo target at 2:17 PM on April 20, 2012


Just this guy, y'know: "Once you get start using resources without having to boost them out of the gravity well so many opportunities open up."

Even better, if you can find some way to harness the potential energy change from dropping all that mass into a gravity well...
posted by mullingitover at 2:37 PM on April 20, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think it's safe to assume that they don't intend on capturing this one asteroid and never doing it again. Once the concept is proven, why would you invest in Instafacegrambook when you can put up cash against a potential multi-trillion dollar return?
posted by feloniousmonk at 2:43 PM on April 20, 2012 [2 favorites]


Not to mention what happens if they manage to patent the whole process.
posted by feloniousmonk at 2:43 PM on April 20, 2012


I'd greatly overestimated the danger of a 500 ton asteroid being sent smashing into the Earth. 7m diameter is way smaller than I'd have guessed. The all knowing Wikipedia says "Asteroids with diameters of 5 to 10 m enter the Earth's atmosphere approximately once per year, with as much energy as Little Boy, the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima, approximately 15 kilotonnes of TNT. These ordinarily explode in the upper atmosphere, and most or all of the solids are vaporized."

I mean, it'd be a shame, but it's not life ending. I'll go back to worrying about what happens if we have a space elevator structural failure wrapping around the earth like a ball of string.
posted by Nelson at 3:03 PM on April 20, 2012


feloniousmonk: "Not to mention what happens if they manage to patent the whole process."

Worse, what happens when extraterrestrials show up and demand payment for the use of their patent, valid throughout the Milky Way Galaxy under the Treaty of Teegeak?
posted by mullingitover at 3:16 PM on April 20, 2012


Meatbomb So if there is so much potential for profit, why does NASA not want to do this by itself? What role does Planetary Resources play aside from reaping the profits from the culmination of decades of taxpayer funded space tech development? Fuck this. Build your own fucking rockets, Planetary Resources.

This is what NASA is for. This is the whole point of government-funded basic science. Historically nobody else has been able and willing to get it through the developmental stage, to the point where it can turn profits, and while currently entities exist such as Apple that certainly can, and probably should, fund basic science, current financial culture doesn't cope well with the uncertainty of return.

The Internet is probably the best example yet that we have of how well this works, although if you're prepared to think laterally about it it's hard to find anything profitable, that is not an example of collectively funded basic development getting it through the unprofitable adoption stage. Even things like cars and planes, invented by "lone geniuses" (building of course with massive stores of collective knowledge), received substantial funding boosts from governments deciding to adopt the technology for logistics, war, etc purposes.

This is specifically why right-wing-politics-prompted de-funding of basic science is such a horrendously bad idea. We are on the verge now of a new space industry, that we could have already had, had the US not decided collectively to put the foxes in charge of the henhouse. It has taken this long to recover from space science de-funding. In order to get it, since collective funding (ie, the sensible method) was choked off, we had to get to the point where private funding could actually do it.

Welcome to 1973, folks. The suspended project restarts now.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 3:22 PM on April 20, 2012 [15 favorites]


Water pipes made of gold, because it's so bendy and nonreactive, or even made of silver, to get the antibacterial properties.

Lol. Gold water pipes would be hilarious. You can practically cut the pure stuff with your fingernail ifs somewhat annealed. That's why rings are alloyed a with little stuff, so they don't you know, disintegrate. As for silver, its not particularly tough either. And its electrical conductivity is only very very slightly better than copper.

Copper is about the best thing in world for pipes because its shit easy to solder. You just hit the joint with torch, the heat pretty much distributes perfectly on its own, then you kiss it with your solder. Done.

What if you could get a huge asteroid of Sodium something or the like, something that would absorb CO2 if dispersed carefully into the atmosphere in some clever way. Exogenous global warming solution!
posted by Chekhovian at 3:29 PM on April 20, 2012


Oddly enough, I think about what it would take to create a space mining and manufacturing industry at least once a month... Including earlier today. I also think about weird things like a LEO data server facility for gaming.
posted by BrotherCaine at 3:41 PM on April 20, 2012


Chekhovian: "Lol. Gold water pipes would be hilarious. You can practically cut the pure stuff with your fingernail ifs somewhat annealed."

So about as soft as lead? Lead water pipes are still in use all over the place, which is why phosphates have to be added to the water supply.
posted by mullingitover at 3:41 PM on April 20, 2012


Softer, in my experience.
posted by Chekhovian at 3:44 PM on April 20, 2012


But not Indium soft of course. Now that shit, that is soft.
posted by Chekhovian at 3:45 PM on April 20, 2012


Chekhovian: "But not Indium soft of course. Now that shit, that is soft."

A challenger appears!
posted by mullingitover at 3:50 PM on April 20, 2012


I like it. Why launch materials into space when they can be just harvested and used there?
posted by ZeusHumms at 4:13 PM on April 20, 2012


Yeah Gallium pipes would be even better. Set your water heater too high and all your pipes melt when you take a shower. Sounds like a great prank opportunity, though with a bit of setup required.
posted by Chekhovian at 4:14 PM on April 20, 2012


There can't possibly be any potential liability issues with dropping a 500 ton rock somewhere on the earth, like, say, on Wall Street, or the Kaaba in Mecca.
posted by Fnarf at 6:24 PM on April 20, 2012


Okay, but this one's only 7 meters across. That's basically beer money.

By my calculations, the 7-meter asteroid is worth roughly $1.7 million. Not a great ROI, at $1 billion a pop, but I'd hope economies of scale would make the 1.6 km one a little more profitable to bring home.
posted by GIFtheory at 7:27 PM on April 20, 2012


With Cameron involved, it's hard not to think they're intending to drop it into an ocean somewhere and mine it from there.
posted by newdaddy at 7:30 PM on April 20, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like what it says in that last link. Moving an asteroid to a Lagrange point and harvesting it would be a proof of concept project, more important for the skills and technologies it teaches than for the ore itself. For the first time ever, humanity would be intentionally modifying space to make it more to our liking, instead of just visiting there and leaving junk behind.
posted by Kevin Street at 12:21 AM on April 21, 2012


What if you could get a huge asteroid of Sodium something or the like...

A raw sodium asteroid would be cool.
Especially cool would be those occasional freak accidents where a 500-ton sodium asteroid accidentally plunges into Lake Michigan...
posted by Thorzdad at 7:07 AM on April 21, 2012


To those disappointed in the size of the asteroid: It's supposed to be a test. If it works, they will start bringing down the big rocks soon enough.
posted by ymgve at 5:14 PM on April 21, 2012 [1 favorite]


Doesn't sound profitable then - maybe they should just use their lobbyists to get NASA to do it, with their branding... once it has all been tested and the bugs are ironed out they can step in to make the BIG MONEY!
posted by Meatbomb at 7:09 PM on April 21, 2012


Are you guys serious? This sounds like the opening crawl to every SF movie I've ever loved. It's motherfucking space mining!

We live on a resource-constrained planet. Literally the only way for our current planetary resource management model (ENDLESS GROWTH FOR EVERYONE) to continue is for us to get off the planet. You can argue that we shouldn't be extending our rapacious appetite for raw materials off this planet and have some kind of Malthusian die-off and kill each other fighting for cans of clean water, or we can take this broken capitalist model and see what happens when we take it out into SPACE.

I once got the chance to ask Iain Banks about his Culture novels, which are one of the best examples of an apparently 'post-scarcity' society, where ideas like money and want have been abolished by effectively having the entire universe to use as the basis of providing a good life for all of its citizens. Yes, if modern day Earth tied to build an orbital habitat with fifteen trillion tonnes of silicon and iron ore it would cost gazillions of our Earth moneys, but in a big enough sandpit (i.e. the solar system), things like that become feasible and the use of our scarce resource exchange tokens (money) becomes meaningless. I did challenge him and say this was really 'deferred scarcity', because eventually you'd come up against a limiting factor, be it another species who don't want to share or the edge of the galaxy. He pointed out that that limiting factor would likely be millions, if not billions of years in the future and that in the meantime you could provide an incredible cultural and living environment for billions of human beings.

IN SPACE, YO.

Seriously, I will be fucking annoyed if this is a Prometheus viral. We've spent decades imagining this. If this is the first step towards a permanent human offworld presence that isn't arseing around in LEO on the ISS, that will be a truly momentous thing for our species.
posted by Happy Dave at 2:02 AM on April 22, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's arseing around at a Lagrange point, but there's nothing wrong with that. Capturing an asteroid and relocating it to essentially become a second tiny moon would give NASA (or whoever) a target they could reach with current technology, that could then be used as a platform for all kinds of research. They could test out technology and train crews there for future space missions, like to Mars or the asteroid belt itself.
posted by Kevin Street at 8:47 AM on April 22, 2012 [1 favorite]


That's 500 tons of "we could...". Wow. Maybe they'll find one like those meteorites at AMNH, looking like chunks from some ancient alien rocket engine,

LEO: I heard Don Petit say on a radio show: The ISS/LEO is inside the magnetosphere. It's shielded by that. That's a serious advantage. Play on the branch beside the nest with mama's wings overhead. Wise first step.
posted by Goofyy at 11:24 AM on April 22, 2012


somehow the words 'sold steely-looking metal." disappeared after that comma.
posted by Goofyy at 11:25 AM on April 22, 2012


So if there is so much potential for profit, why does NASA not want to do this by itself?

NASA gets funds at the whim of representatives from 50 US states. If there were a big moneymaking opportunity and NASA got anywhere near it, the fury of unleashed politicking over who gets dibs would rend space and time.
posted by zippy at 11:34 AM on April 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


This sort of thing is exactly what those in Congress were hoping for when they decided to defund NASA... that business would step up to the plate and, with the help of cheaper and more ubiquitous tech, start mounting the kind of projects that only a government could manage a generation ago.
posted by crunchland at 1:08 PM on April 23, 2012


So they made their announcement, and released a video. Asteroid mining made a reality inside of 24 months.
posted by crunchland at 11:17 AM on April 24, 2012


Unfortunately, 24 months of valve time. BBC gets some reactions.
posted by a robot made out of meat at 11:39 AM on April 24, 2012




I'm reminded of the 16th Century tales of El Dorado. Why would any random asteroid be chock full of gold, platinum or water, any more than would be a random 500 ton chunk of terrestrial basalt? Chances are, much like on earth it's going to be just...rock, with trace amounts of minerals.
This strikes me as nothing but a billionaire's vanity project, for men who want to feel they're doing something manly and important with their excess billions. There might be more useful, and beneficial avenues of investment.
posted by Flashman at 8:21 PM on April 24, 2012


Unlike during the 16th century, we have science in the form of powerful telescopes and astronomy, so it's possible to get a very good sense of an asteroid's composition to know whether or not it is worth prospecting.

Additionally, if you are prepared to process it, there is pretty much nothing they could be made of that would be worthless due to the expense of lifting raw materials into orbit. Raw rock becomes spacecrete aggregate, e.g..

This is not to mention the potentially immeasurable value that could one day be derived from the ability of our species to divert the orbit of large rocks.
posted by feloniousmonk at 8:49 PM on April 24, 2012


James Cameron’s Planetary Resources Explains Plan To Mine Asteroids, Launching In 2 Years

This is not to mention the potentially immeasurable value that could one day be derived from the ability of our species to divert the orbit of large rocks.

Substantial dollar value.
posted by Artw at 3:24 PM on April 25, 2012


Why would any random asteroid be chock full of gold, platinum or water, any more than would be a random 500 ton chunk of terrestrial basalt?

Well we know from the ones we've collected on earth that some of them are very high in metals. Imagine an exploded planet (which some of these rocks are)... if you pick the right shard, you get something from the very core, where all the heavy stuff is concentrated.
posted by Meatbomb at 1:57 AM on April 26, 2012


The interesting thing I learned is that all of the heavier important metals we mine are in fact left over from asteroid hits. Apparently all the "Iron loving" metals sank down to alloy with the iron core when the planet was still molten. Most of the stuff in the crust we can access had to come from impacts.

So it would tend to suggest a possible feast of minerals out there in the cold and dark, wouldn't it?
posted by Chekhovian at 2:48 AM on April 26, 2012


This $20 trillion rock; contains details on known asteroids containing 100,000 tons of platinum, gold, etc.
posted by Nelson at 5:45 PM on April 27, 2012 [1 favorite]


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