DailyDirt: Asteroids Are Not Just An 80s Video Game

from the urls-we-dig-up dept

Dwarf planets and other rocky space objects have been in the news recently, thanks to the New Horizons spacecraft flying by Pluto. Rocky space objects much closer to the Earth are getting some attention, too, especially after the Chelyabinsk meteor exploded over Russia in 2013. No one saw that one coming, and a bigger rock would have done a lot more damage. Near-Earth space objects are literally all around us, so check out the links below if you have any instinct for self-preservation interest in naturally-occurring space rocks.

After you’ve finished checking out those links, take a look at our Daily Deals for cool gadgets and other awesome stuff.

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Companies: nasa, planetary resources

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Comments on “DailyDirt: Asteroids Are Not Just An 80s Video Game”

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Rekrul says:

Why look for valuable asteroids for mining?

Mining resources from asteroids is a nice idea, but how exactly do they expect to accomplish this? The technology to do it is probably decades away, and that’s if they start working full time on it today.

There’s the problem of actually landing on a moving asteroid, mining the materials and then getting them back to Earth. How do you safely re-enter the Earth’s orbit carrying the weight of enough ore/metal to make the entire mission cost effective?

I don’t think automated or remote controlled mining rigs are going to get the job done. They can’t be controlled in real-time or know how to deal with unexpected situations and letting them decide for themselves what’s most valuable is a crapshoot.

Getting a human to an asteroid and back doesn’t look like it’s going to happen any time in the near future either. We can barely get people up to the ISS and back.

There are also risks involved. The old adage “Don’t touch that, you don’t know where it’s been!” applies. If there is other life in the universe, how do we know that the asteroid isn’t carrying alien bacteria? Or that it doesn’t contain a new form of radiation twice as deadly as anything on Earth? Have scientists now discovered and cataloged everything in the universe such that they can say with absolute certainty that asteroids will never contain anything dangerous?

Not that I think we should let fear dominate exploration, but there’s a difference between bringing back a few samples of moon rocks in closely monitored conditions and bringing back hundreds of pounds of ore mined from an asteroid.

JoeCool (profile) says:

Re: Why look for valuable asteroids for mining?

Mining asteroids won’t really amount to much until we move more manufacturing, in general, to orbit (Earth orbit for harmless stuff, Lunar orbit for the more dangerous stuff). And THAT won’t happen until we get a more cost-efficient method of getting stuff to and from orbit. Eventually quite a bit of manufacturing will be in space, and then asteroid mining will come into its own.

alternatives() says:

Re: Why look for valuable asteroids for mining?

Mining resources from asteroids is a nice idea, but how exactly do they expect to accomplish this?


Space based mining would let Humans use far more energy gathering/use techniques than planet based ones along with removing biosphere concerns of processing ore into refined metal. Why return the ore when you can return refined material? (Heat dissipation from the work is an issue….too bad hydrios arn’t real as that could be a heat pump to vent process heat in a controllable way)

There are also risks involved

Alien bacteria is a far less risk than the high ground of such an operation being turned into a weapon to attack the population at the bottom of the gravity well of Earth.

If you have to pick a threat to Man – I’d lay odds on Man being an ass to their fellow Man VS ‘alien bacteria’.

Thrudd (profile) says:

The whole premise for space mining and manufacturing is to provide materials and equipment for use in space instead of schlepping everything up and down the gravity well.
Once the system is in place and self sustainable the only import for a long while will be skilled labour and exports limited to stuff that would be cheaper and easier to manufacture up top.
Heck, solar power would be a major export with microwave energy beamed to multi kilometer antennas in remote regions with next to no indigenous life that would be at risk under such antennas.

alternatives() says:

with microwave energy beamed to multi kilometer antennas

Stupid idea that just won’t die.

The energy ROI is one reason. Another is the use as a weapon. If Humans can’t get things like a Jeep or a TV right and such can be used against the owner – why do people keep thinking spaced-based power that can be sent Earthside is gonna work out any better?

Fukushima is an example of how well Man manages Man’s technology.

Dirtclustit says:

Give Me a Break

What elements or other natural resource is there that would need to be mined off planet?

What we need is to be more careful about where the mined material we have already extracted ends up. We live in a throw away world where profit is the only concern. If we were smart, we’d be spending money on recycling, recovery, and restoration plans in order to make sure all elements we use go back into their natural cycled system so that our planet is still a viable place to live 150 years from now.

It was easy to get lost in the distraction of daily life in the 50s, when we could still lie to ourselves and see our world as so vast and our impact so minimal as just on drop in an ocean.

Today we know better, we know we cannot afford to engage in any industry that is not sustainable, yet we daily justify all of our current despicable practices because mankind would rather stick it’s head in the sand and dream inhabiting or mining other Celestial Bodies

It’s pathetic and sad

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