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#43363 04/26/12 10:19 AM
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The new company 'Planetary Resources, Inc', backed by Silicon Valley billionaires and filmmaker/explorer James Cameron with a single goal: To mine near-Earth asteroids for precious resources like rare metals.
Nobody knows exactly how much asteroid wealth exists, but the mineral wealth of the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter could be equivalent to about $100 billion for every person on Earth, according to "Mining the Sky: Untold Riches from the Asteroid, Comets, and Planets" (Addison-Wesley, 1996)
Even smaller space rocks can have mineral prizes worth tens of trillions of dollars. The smallest known metallic asteroid that is an accessible near-Earth object has 40 times as much metal as all the metal in Earth's history
"The near-Earth asteroid population could easily support 10 to 40 times the population of Earth, with all the necessary resources to do that," said John Lewis, Professor Emeritus at the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory of the University of Arizona and author of "Mining the Sky."

http://www.space.com/15401-asteroid-mining-huge-dollars-sense.html

***Thoughts
Mining the Asteroids! laugh A SF best seller, while the world is in recession?


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Here is a longer discussion of PRI's plan. This is from the Bad Astronomy blog on Discover Magazines web site. The blogger thinks it is a good idea and may have a chance of success. One thing about The Space.com report is that it rather sensationalized the effort. The blog entry goes through the plan step by step and points out what PRI actually plans. They do not plan to just up and launch a mining operation. They will do it in relatively small steps over a long period of time. And one of the resources they are particularly looking at is water. This is one of the indispensable requirements for manned space adventures, and it is very expensive to ship it up from Earth. If they can get the cost of water down below what it costs to ship it up from Earth they can possibly make money off of that. $20,000 per liter is the current cost of water in orbit.

Anyway the thing about this is that it is a long term project and is being backed by some people with deep pockets who are interested in getting mankind into space, not necessarily making a big profit in the short term.

Bill Gill


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Just suppose this is serious for a moment.

Who is going to give permission for the 'miners' to mine on the moon? Who owns the moon? To whom do the assets associated with the endeavour belong? It will, apparently be achieved with robotic diggers, and processed also by robots whilst they are in orbit. To whom will these robots belong?

As yet there is no World Government. I can see a huge political bun-fight here. It is still not possible to lob in somewhere on Earth and start exploiting the natural resources of a country, even one of which you are a citizen, without that countries approval and permission.

Lawyers will be salivating with excitement over this idea!

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Originally Posted By: Ellis
Who is going to give permission for the 'miners' to mine on the moon? Who owns the moon?

This particular endeavor isn't about moon mining. It is about asteroid mining. Asteroids should be fair game. If you can get to one I don't think anybody will contest your rights to it.

The Moon is a different problem. There are treaties that supposedly handle the matter, but they probably have little or no force.

And of course I have read plenty of science fiction about asteroid miners. They are a rugged bunch who fend for themselves and enforce their own law. In fact if you have read very many westerns they are just like all those cowpokes/prospectors that come to town on Saturday night to whoop it up.

Bill Gill


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And now another link from phys.org (formerly physorg.com).
This one is about the legal problems that may come about from the proposed asteroid mining.

Bill Gill


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I'm interested that this is debated seriously and in high places. The reason I find it so is that the Antarctic Treaty, which has worked fairly successfully so far, is, in my opinion, about to be fiercely tested with the discovery of so much mineral wealth. Up until now Australia has claimed a large portion of Antarctica without in any way establishing large research stations or tourist resorts! There is some thing of a push to start serious exploration of resources there, but the treaty so far has stopped this.

It seems to me that people jumping on asteroids and grabbing them will need some sort of regulation to prevent exploitation on every level. Would not a new opportunity such as this require a great deal of planning and forethought? We will only get one go at it and lawlessness does not seem to be a good place to start.

The existing Space treaty makes it clear that no one country (or person?) can have sole rights to 'extraterrestrial' property. Could this mean that a viable international committee would have to be established? Would that be possible? One encouraging example is still the so-far successful Antarctic treaty that I mentioned before.

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The existing Space treaty makes it clear that no one country (or person?) can have sole rights to 'extraterrestrial' property, but it is very weak on mining operations. You can apparently mine the water with no restrictions (and perhaps other items on a controlled basis) but not own the ground your mining operation is on. Sounds like mining on national forest land, it is done all the time and there are already all kinds of rules on how to do it in the first place.

Speaking of the wild west, the first resource on the moon to be extracted will probably be water. I don't think there was anything valuable in the moon rocks, probably nothing would be easy to get to, except for the water which could be used instantly and is already easy to get at.

The first stop over point is low orbit around the earth, nothing there except what you bring with you. The next point is the moon, the filling station or rest area on the way to mars and the asteroid mining. I think water could also be brought back from the moon to the low earth orbits cheaper than blasting off of earth with a payload of water.

While the Antarctic treaty and other such treaties talk about mining and other commodity driven operations they probably don't say anything about water rights or use because it is everywhere in the Antarctic region. Unless some one proposed melting all the ice for use as fresh water on the other continents I don't think anyone would care if you melt ice in the Antarctic regions.


Water on the moon would probably be considered something that you would just use, like the air on earth. The question would be, how much could you have on hand before it becomes a problem. If a company made a reservoir big enough for everyone on the moon, they might not be allowed to keep it private. But if your water reservoirs were more fitting for the size of a company's operations, then they could keep the water to themselves, except in extreme emergencies. Not because they have to but because they might expect the same from their neighbors.

I don't know about using water as a fuel, I think that is a poor idea no matter where you are, unless it is a closed system. Maybe in an emergency it would be ok for short term use.

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We have had some interesting discussions on this stuff on various physics forums and beer sessions :-).

The general consensus is the most likely target for a mining operation is the keiper belt and towing or driving a resource rich meteorite back to some close proximity to earth or even landing it on earth, although I consider that far too dangerous.


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Isn't the Kuiper belt kind of far out? I should thing that the rings of Jupiter might be better. There seems to be quite a bit of water ice out there. On Nova they just had a couple of episodes about the search for life, and they mentioned that there is quite a lot of water ice out there.

In fact I recall a science fiction story in which Mars settlers needed water and went out to Jupiter. They grabbed a large chunk and put engines on it and flew it back in one piece. See, this is on topic in the SF Forum.

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The belt contains

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/16_Psyche

That is almost certainly iron-nickel composition and the only one that I knew was guaranteed minerals.

Many of the closer targets you bring up are probably silcon etc although space objects is not my specialty, so if you know of a closer mineral body I would accept your view.

So my bend on the belt may be simple bias based on my limited knowledge ... it happens :-)

Last edited by Orac; 08/14/12 03:49 PM.

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We may have a confusion of names here. You mentioned the keiper belt. I assumed you meant the Kuiper Belt, which is the immense ring of material on the rim of the Solar System. Psyche is a member of the asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter. If that is what you meant you are probably right. Of course when people talk about the asteroid belt they have a tendency to think of a huge number of asteroids in close proximity. In fact there are a lot of them, but they are in a belt all the way around the Sun, so they aren't really close together.

In science fiction stories they are always having our hero dodging through an asteroid belt trying to avoid calamity. In fact it is not a problem, just because of the distances between them.

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Nope no confusion I had it backwards Psyche is indeed in the main belt I just read my own link ... DOH :-)

I always thought it was Kuiper ... I did say celestial objects is not my strong point !!!

So nope you are correct I was very very wrong about all I got right was the name which by miracle I remembered and that it was iron-nickel which they still think.

Last edited by Orac; 08/14/12 05:32 PM.

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Yes indeed. Asteroid miners have been a mainstay of science fiction for a long long time now. A lot of times in the stories they are looking for particular rare metals, but in fact for general usefulness just plain iron is extremely valuable for construction. There are obviously other metals in there and so the asteroids will be prime hunting ground for space mining. And aside from metals, ice will also be valuable so that the miners will have water.

The meteor strike that killed off the dinosaurs was detected in part because there was a thin geological layer that was enriched with, I believe, iridium. So there are plenty of metals out there.

Bill Gill


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1 litre of water cost 20,000 apx because of its weight.

1 lb of gold cost $25,600 apx

how much would the total be to go get some gold
and bring it back to earth?

you would need to sell the gold when you get it back
to earth.

100 lbs = $2.5 million apx

1000 lbs = $25.5 million apx

10,000 lbs = $256.5 million apx

but doesnt it cost loads more than that just to go to the ISS?

nasa says it cost apx 450 million for 1 shuttle launch.

and thats just to go to the ISS.

but to cover that cost you would need to bring back apx
20,000 lbs of gold.

how much would it cost to get the gold safely back to earth?

without burning it up in the atmosphere?

the space agency just doesnt have the right frame of mind
to accomplish something like that.


there still stuck in the 60's



3/4 inch of dust build up on the moon in 4.527 billion years,LOL and QM is fantasy science.
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[Quote=Mike Kremer]

Mike Kremer said:
The reason I started this category, about Asteroid Mining was
because I thought the Billionaire filmaker/explorer James Cameron, was over the top when he registered a Company along with others, to mine The Asteroids.
What I should have said, although I did not think of it until today....That it would hve made more sense for him to mine the surface of the Moon.
Not only NASA, but the Russians have stated that the Moon has millions of kilograms of Helium 3, locked up in its regolith (surface soil)....the action of the Sun on the Moons soil, for a few million years.
Here on Earth we have very little Helium 3. in fact we have very little Helium gas left, go check the price of kids Helium filled balloons

Any-way both Russia and America have stated the following:-

"Along with deuterium, which can be extracted from sea water, He-3 is the primary fuel of a clean nuclear fusion reactor currently being investigated by U.S., European, and Japanese fusion research scientists. Some of these scientists believe that a demonstration fusion power reactor using the He-3/deuterium reaction can be built within 10 or 15 years and a commercial power reactor within 20 years. It would generate only a very slight amount of radioactivity, equivalent in nature to that produced by hospitals in their nuclear medicine areas. When used in this plant, He-3 would have so much energy that it would require only 20 tons-less than one Shuttle load-to supply all the electricity used in the United States in a year."

The current cost of fuel used to provide this electricity is tens of billions of dollars-and going up. We can estimate that the single Shuttle-load of He-3 might be worth about this same amount-or more, when the environmental impact of fossil fuels is included.
With the above in mind, prehaps James Cameron will re-set his Company sights upon mining the surface of the Moon, in partnership with NASA and Russia.
Infinitly cheaper and simpler than mining an Asteroid?

http://www.technologyreview.com/news/408558/mining-the-moon/


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exactly...

what use does gold have when compared to energy.

although unless you plan on bringing construction materials from the earth , which would cost too much , a mining operation would be very valuable to begin with.

but the big bucks would be in energy as you say.


3/4 inch of dust build up on the moon in 4.527 billion years,LOL and QM is fantasy science.

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