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Top 10 facts about asteroid mining



Asteroid mining sounds like the realm of science fiction. It was certainly a popular fiction plot or setting, ranging from serious thrillers ( alien ) to comedy (Red Dwarf ). In reality, however, this has only been taken into account in the past decade or so.

On April 6, 2020, President Donald Trump signed an executive order stating that the United States does not recognize space as a "common ground" for humanity. The U.S. officially believes that public and private organizations can claim anything they find.

This is a massive step ahead of the Obama era 2015 competitiveness law that did not allow nations to claim ownership of everything.

As you can imagine, this creates problems with international law and relations. Before we examine this, however, it is worth mentioning why we want to do this and how we plan to do it.

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0 amazing discoveries with asteroids

10 Huge amount of resources

We live in a world of electronic devices, global mass transportation and a growing population who want such things. Gold, platinum, nickel, iron. . . You name it and it's probably in your pocket or driveway right now. These resources are limited on Earth and will go through faster with every technological advance.

However, the same resources are almost unlimited in space. Let's take the example of platinum. This metal is used, for example, in pacemakers and as a catalyst to transform crude oil into something that we can use for fuel and manufacturing.

Platinum is considered rare on Earth. However, the asteroid belt in our solar system alone contains a billion times more platinum than here on Earth, and that doesn't even include other resources. [1]

9 Water is the most valuable resource

It sounds strange, doesn't it? They have enough rare metals to destroy the earth, but what prospectors love most is water. Water drives life. However, they are not looking for life, but for fuel.

Water is hydrogen and oxygen if it is broken down into its basic components. This separation can be achieved via an on-board electrical catalytic converter or external equipment. After degradation, the components of the water can be used as electrical energy to support devices such as life support systems and fuel cells. If left as water, it can be a refreshing drink.

NASA plans to set up depots in space. They extracted water from nearby sources, performed the catalyst process, and then sucked it to the docked vehicle. Essentially, they would be gas stations in space. [2]

8 New Mining Methods and Equipment

The equipment and techniques that we have developed to mine on Earth do not work when we deal with moving objects in a low state. Gravity environment. Depending on their composition, they are either very sensitive or very difficult to degrade.

The sensitive asteroids are known as C-type (carbon-containing chondrite), which have high water concentrations. They could be broken down with a swarm of bots with barbed feet. Once locked, the bots extracted water and other minerals and then returned to the base. These asteroids are so sensitive that the bots don't even have to drill, they just have to scratch the surface.

The asteroids that are difficult to degrade are referred to as the M type (metallic). They pose a greater challenge because they are essentially made of solid flying metal. It may be easier to magnetically pull them closer to the earth for processing. [3]

7 It would result in us colonizing the solar system.

The asteroids drawn closer to Earth would be in space, on the moon or processed on other planets. This would allow these resources to be refined before they are brought back to Earth. More importantly, they could be used to build new colonies and maintain existing ones. The asteroid mining industries would create the first permanent human populations outside of the world.

Rick Tumlinson, Chairman of Deep Space Industries, sums it up: “We will only be visitors in space until we learn how to live from the country there. ”MicroGravity Foundry has developed high-performance 3D printers that can work in zero gravity. These can be used to build communication devices, solar module power plants and, if more resources are harvested, entire colonies. [4]

6 The market values ​​are insane

Distances in space are measured in numbers that the human brain cannot really understand and put into perspective. They are so large that the distance to an object outside of our solar system is calculated in light years to keep it manageable. A light year measures how far light travels in a year, which corresponds to approximately 9.46 trillion kilometers.

Within our solar system, distances are measured in astronomical units (AU). An AU is the average distance from Earth to the Sun, which is approximately 150 million kilometers. It's a smaller unit, but it's still difficult to understand.

Now try to imagine a trillion dollars (we will abbreviate "quintillion" as "qt"). That's a million trillion, that's enough money to buy the entire global economy and not even diminish your wealth.

Messalina, the "cheapest" large degradable asteroid, was rated with a poor value of 1.07 qt. The most expensive is Davida with 26.99 qt. That doesn't include all of the smaller degradable asteroids outside the top 50, the total number of zeros of which would most likely take us beyond the word limit for this section! [5]

10 Meteors Fell To Earth And Flown Back Into Space

5 It Will Change The Economy

De Beers Corporation once had a diamond monopoly that allowed them to control the market. It was a way to keep prices high and make their profits go up.

Now imagine that you brought a trillion dollar worth of diamonds back to Earth. The supply would be much higher than the demand and the value of diamonds would decrease. McDonald & # 39; s could give them away in happy meals and not lose money. This is wonderful news for us consumers.

However, this is not good for companies and countries that are heavily dependent on these materials for economic success. The African continent, which has 30 percent of the world's natural resources, has huge industries for cobalt, gold and platinum. [6]

The final impact of space degradation on such industries is difficult to calculate. This depends on the cost of mining asteroids and transporting these minerals to Earth. Perhaps the better markets for asteroid miners are in space.

However, if space exploration introduced more competitors to the earth-bound industries, this would force the mineral-producing countries to change their economies overnight. Many countries may not be able to afford a space program to find new resources. This could also affect international relations. On the other hand, if prices fall too far, asteroid miners are unlikely to be profitable selling their products on Earth.

It is too early to say how this will work on Earth. But asteroid miners should have an advantage selling in space unless their earthbound counterparts find an effective way to assert themselves. It seems a complicated mess, but someone will figure out how to make a profit at some point.

4 It is already straining international relations

Ah yes, the classic space race between the USA and Russia, just like the race to land a man on the moon. The race is still to the moon. This time, however, there is no communism, just a lot of Putin.

The Russian space agency Roscosmos made a statement, partially saying: “Attempts to expropriate space and aggressive plans to actually conquer areas of other planets are scarcely putting countries on course for fruitful cooperation. “Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov called it" simply unacceptable ". [7]

Outer space is one of the few issues that the two countries are working together to fight over the invasion of Ukraine and allegations of Russian interference in US elections. Russia refers to UN law when it describes space as a common foundation for humanity. However, the laws are not as clear as Russia imagines.

3 Problems with international law

The 1967 space treaty, signed by the United States, Great Britain and the United States, includes the principle that "space is not subject to national appropriation through sovereignty". The 1979 moon agreement, which specifically deals with activities on the moon and other celestial bodies, has signed only five nations. They do not include the United States or Russia. [8]

The space treaty mentions that nations are responsible for non-governmental organizations, but we know from experience that this is not the case. For example, when hiring private security firms in war zones, governments don't always take responsibility in this way.

This could create a scenario in which nations hire private contractors to do their job in space and then act ignorant when something happens. Sounds like a movie plot.

2 countries make their own laws

With so few nations signing the recent lunar agreement of 1979, countries are beginning to create their own laws to regulate how their citizens can explore and use space resources. Donald Trump did so with his executive ordinance on April 6, 2020. However, Luxembourg had already pushed things further.

The Space Resources Exploration and Use Act of 20 July 2017 states that Luxembourg companies (or European companies based in Luxembourg) can take over their extracted space resources after the Luxembourg government has authorized them to do so. [9]

While this is not certain, it may offer a way for companies in other European countries to circumvent more restrictive laws in their home countries. In a way, Luxembourg could become asteroid mining, which Switzerland means for international banking.

1 It could solve climate change

At this point it sounds like all doom and darkness. Countries selfishly enrich themselves at the expense of others, and the possibility of waging war seems to be escalating.

But don't worry. Every cloud has a silver lining.

In the long run, the problems of asteroid mining could solve the problem of climate change on Earth that would affect every nation. We could use new and better space technologies on our own planet. This has already happened with other space technologies: GPS, for example.

Do you remember when we mentioned the splitting of water into hydrogen and oxygen to produce fuel? If this process were used heavily in space, more research money would be invested in it, the process would become more efficient and the costs would be reduced. This would allow us to manufacture cars with hydrogen fuel cells at a price that will make them mainstream. [10]

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