[meteorite-list] Capturing asteroids in orbit
From: Sterling K. Webb <sterling_k_webb_at_meteoritecentral.com>
Date: Sat, 24 Apr 2010 00:50:59 -0500
Our present level of technology is (just barely) capable
of going to an asteroid and MINING some of it. In 1998,
we sent a robot explorer to the asteroid Eros to photograph
it and map it. No sample return. A number of spacecraft
and a large crew could mine some of it, using solar heating
to melt the metals out and bring them back to be separated
If Eros is typical of stony meteorites, then it contains
about 3% metal. With the known abundance's of metals in
meteorites, even a very cautious estimate suggests 20,000
million tonnes of aluminium along with similar amounts of
gold, platinum and other rarer metals.
In the 2,900 cubic kms of Eros, there is more aluminium,
gold, silver, zinc and other base and precious metals
than have ever been excavated in history or indeed, could
ever be excavated from the upper layers of the Earth's crust.
How much is Eros worth? Today's price for gold is
about $1000 per ounce or about $25,000,000 per ton.
It means the value of the gold in asteroid Eros is
about $4 trillion. That is just the gold. Platinum is
Eros contains a lot of rare elements and metals that
are of use in the semiconductor industry for example.
At today's prices, Eros is worth more than $50 trillion.
That is just in one asteroid and not a very large one at
that. There are thousands of asteroids out there.
John S. Lewis, author of "Mining The Sky," said:
??an asteroid with a diameter of one kilometer would
have a mass of about two billion tons. One such stoney
asteroid would contain 30 million tons of nickel, 1.5
million tons of metal cobalt and 7,500 tons of platinum.
The platinum alone would have a value of more than
$150 billion!?. The huge sums of money involved could
one day induce mining companies to look towards the
heavens. It may not happen until we have exhausted
most of the Earth's natural resources, but it will happen."
MOVING an asteroid is also technically feasible,
although we are newer to the idea. It might be cheaper
to move a one-kilometer asteroid than to mine it in place.
We mine it at our own speed once it was in Earth orbit.
But there is the inherent public relations of problem of
people who might get... well, nervous about us shoving
a big asteroid toward the Earth. I don't think we know
enough to estimate the cost of moving an asteroid yet.
Sterling K. Webb
----- Original Message -----
From: "Melanie Matthews" <miss_meteorite at yahoo.ca>
To: "Meteorite List" <meteorite-list at meteoritecentral.com>
Sent: Friday, April 23, 2010 11:20 PM
Subject: [meteorite-list] Capturing asteroids in orbit
>I wonder if it would possible to send some machines to the asteroid
>belt to capture some whole asteroids and bring them to Earth? Or would
>they be drifting too quickly in their orbits to capture with the
>current technology? Also would decent-sized samples from such captures
>be available to collectors?
> IMCA: 2975
> eBay: metmel2775
> Known on SkyRock Cafe as SpaceCollector09
> Unclassified meteorites are like a box of chocolates... you never know
> what you're gonna get!
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Received on Sat 24 Apr 2010 01:50:59 AM PDT