Outer space mining is an exciting prospect for the worlds opportunistic miners as individuals are beginning to look towards the stars to solve the worlds issue of finite resources. Evidence suggests that there are billions of pounds worth of metals buried within asteroids; which are in our grasp, making asteroid mining a feasible mission! Several international organizations are developing plans for going up to get these natural space resources.
At storm we enjoy exploring the latest developments within the mining industry and we found this one particularly exciting!
Asteroids are lumps of metals, rocks and dust; scientists believe they are leftover material rom the early formation of the solar system or debris from the destruction of a planet. They are varying in size, from a few feet to hundreds of miles.
There are 3 main types of asteroids, C-type, S-type and M-type. C-type asteroids have high water abundancies, therefore have very little economic value. S-type asteroids contain iron, nickel, and cobalt. These asteroids also contain traces of gold, platinum and rhodium. M-class asteroids are very rare and are reported to contain ten times more metal in them.
The need for resources is growing, earths mineral reserves are finite and slowly running out; they are needed to fuel the planet’s expanding populations, advancing technologies and expanding industries, with everything from coal and oil to rare earth minerals in high demand.
Some individual asteroids are reported to contain larger deposits of iron ore than can be found on earth, hence the excitement revolving around the possibilities of mining in space. However, reaching and then mining these deposits requires advanced technology and demands vast amounts of logistical effort; deterring many from the concept of space mining.
A team from the University of South Wales is targeting water extraction on the Moon as a source of fuel for future missions, and a proof of concept for sceptical mining companies. The project will be largely autonomous with most of the work being completed by robots. This mission could be a starting point for future endeavours, proving the technology and knowledge of space is close to successful mining operations taking place.