On February 15 an asteroid named 2012 DA14 will swing within just
17,200 miles of the planet’s surface, which is well within the orbit of
the man-made geosynchronous satellites that orbit the Earth. By coming
within just one-thirteenth the distance from the Earth to the moon, the
asteroid will set a record for close approach by an object of its size.
A company namely Deep Space Industries (DSI) wants to develop the technology to mine Asteroids
made the somewhat melancholic estimate that DA14 could contain metals
and propellant worth as much as $195 billion. Since the asteroid will
fly by the Earth traveling at 17,400 miles per hour, however, it isn’t
practical to mine.
NASA has estimated that DA14 is only about 150
feet across, but DSI believes that is still big enough to be worth
billions. DSI “experts” estimate that if 10% of the asteroid were made
of minable metals, they could be worth $130 billion. If another 5% of
the asteroid could be mined for water, it could be used as $65 billion
worth of rocket fuel in space.
DSI is hoping to begin space mining
around the year 2020. In the meantime, the company will be sending
“FireFly” probes to examine asteroids, and later “DragonFly” probes that
will take samples of the asteroid.
NASA will also be sending
probes to investigate asteroids before 2020. In 2016, the agency will
launch the OSIRIS-REx probe, which will visit the Earth-threatening
asteroid 1999 RQ36.
In : Business