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posted by martyb on Friday January 20 2017, @02:17AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the iron-is-a-precious-metal? dept.

NASA wants to uncover the mystery behind the asteroid “16 Psyche.” that may contain a priceless treasure trove of minerals. “We’ve been to all the different planets, we’ve been to other asteroids. But we’ve never visited a body that has been made of entirely metal,” said Carol Polanskey, project scientist for the Psyche mission. Now NASA, led by researchers at Arizona State University, plans to send an unmanned spacecraft to orbit 16 Psyche – an asteroid roughly the size of Massachusetts, made of iron and other precious metals. The mission’s leader estimates that the iron alone on today’s market would be worth $10,000 quadrillion.

Previously: NASA Selects Two Missions to Visit Asteroids


Original Submission

Related Stories

NASA Selects Two Missions to Visit Asteroids 1 comment

NASA has selected two new missions to explore asteroids. One mission will visit several Jupiter trojans, while the other will visit 16 Psyche, the most massive metallic M-type asteroid and the eleventh most massive asteroid known:

NASA has selected two missions that have the potential to open new windows on one of the earliest eras in the history of our solar system – a time less than 10 million years after the birth of our sun. The missions, known as Lucy and Psyche, were chosen from five finalists and will proceed to mission formulation, with the goal of launching in 2021 and 2023, respectively.

[...] Lucy, a robotic spacecraft, is scheduled to launch in October 2021. It's slated to arrive at its first destination, a main belt asteroid, in 2025. From 2027 to 2033, Lucy will explore six Jupiter Trojan asteroids. These asteroids are trapped by Jupiter's gravity in two swarms that share the planet's orbit, one leading and one trailing Jupiter in its 12-year circuit around the sun. The Trojans are thought to be relics of a much earlier era in the history of the solar system, and may have formed far beyond Jupiter's current orbit.

[...] The Psyche mission will explore one of the most intriguing targets in the main asteroid belt – a giant metal asteroid, known as 16 Psyche, about three times farther away from the sun than is the Earth. This asteroid measures about 130 miles (210 kilometers) in diameter and, unlike most other asteroids that are rocky or icy bodies, is thought to be comprised mostly of metallic iron and nickel, similar to Earth's core. Scientists wonder whether Psyche could be an exposed core of an early planet that could have been as large as Mars, but which lost its rocky outer layers due to a number of violent collisions billions of years ago.

The budgets for Discovery Program class missions are capped at $450 million.


Original Submission

NASA's Psyche Asteroid Mission Will Launch on a Falcon Heavy Rocket 1 comment

Falcon Heavy to launch NASA Psyche asteroid mission

NASA awarded a contract to SpaceX Feb. 28 for the launch of a mission to a large metallic asteroid on the company's Falcon Heavy rocket.

NASA said that it will use a Falcon Heavy to launch its Psyche mission in July 2022 from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center. The contract is valued at $117 million, which includes the launch itself and other mission-related costs.

Psyche is one of two missions NASA selected in January 2017 for its Discovery program of relatively low-cost planetary science missions. Psyche will use a Mars flyby in 2023 to arrive at its destination, an asteroid also called Psyche, in January 2026. The spacecraft will go into orbit around the asteroid, one of the largest in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

The asteroid is primarily made of iron and nickel, and could be the remnant of a core of a protoplanet that attempted to form there before high-speed collisions with other planetesimals broke it apart. Planetary scientists believe that studies of the asteroid Psyche could help them better understand the formation of the solar system.

The Psyche mission is led by Arizona State University, with Maxar the prime contractor for the spacecraft. The launch will also carry two smallsat secondary payloads: Escape and Plasma Acceleration and Dynamics Explorers (EscaPADE), which will study the Martian atmosphere, and Janus, which will study binary asteroids.

Also at TechCrunch.

Previously:
NASA Selects Two Missions to Visit Asteroids
NASA Asteroid Mission -- Metals "Worth" Ten Thousand Quadrillion Dollars
SpaceX Drops Protest of "Lucy" Contract, Gets Double Asteroid Redirection Test Contract
Nasa Contemplates Mission to the Core of a Protoplanet in 2022


Original Submission

Chinese Researchers Propose Asteroid Mining Plan, Including a Heat Shield 16 comments

China's Plan to Seize a Near-Earth Asteroid Sounds Surprisingly Feasible

For centuries, humans have extracted minerals from the Earth with reckless abandon, but it's only a matter of time before our desire for gold, platinum, iron, tungsten, and other useful ores will exceed our planet's ability to provide them. But what if we could look beyond Earth for the raw materials we need to power the engines of industry? We'll spare you the disingenuous prattle about how this sounds like a sci-fi movie, because the fact of the matter is asteroid mining is right over the horizon, and a group of Chinese scientists is already trying to figure out how to snag a near-Earth asteroid out of space to harvest all its goodies on Earth.

"Sounds like science-fiction, but I believe it can be realized," Li Mingtao, Ph.D., a researcher at the National Space Science Center under the Chinese Academy of Sciences, tells Chinese state-run news agency Xinhua. Li and his colleagues introduced their plan at a competition in Shenzhen in which participants proposed innovative future technologies.

Their plan, which involves a constellation of satellites in an orbit around the sun that would search for asteroids, wrap a massive bag around an asteroid, and ferry it back to Earth, has significant engineering obstacles. Even once they get a spacecraft to intercept an asteroid and envelop it in some kind of strong material, they'll still have to get it here. That's where a giant, unfolding heat shield comes in, to keep the asteroid from burning up upon reentry. It may sound crazy, but it's just one of many equally ambitious ideas floating around in the asteroid mining field. And as far as asteroid mining schemes go, it sounds pretty reasonable.

So far, Li and his team have been working with the Qian Xuesen Laboratory of Space Technology, under the China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation, to identify a suitable target, reports Xinhua. This will likely be a near-Earth asteroid about 30 feet in diameter. Even a small asteroid would be hard to wrangle, but it could still potentially contain billions of dollars worth of precious metals.

I'm envisioning two ways of getting asteroid chunks down to Earth without burning them up: either a controlled landing of a small portion (tens or hundreds of tons) of minerals using a BFR or other reusable rocket, or diverting a heat-shielded asteroid (or small chunk of one) into Earth orbit and then controlling its descent. Possibly into a desert instead of an ocean.

Related: Luxembourg Announces Investment in Asteroid Mining
NASA Asteroid Mission -- Metals "Worth" Ten Thousand Quadrillion Dollars
Asteroid Mining Could Begin in 10-20 Years
"Mission Success" for Arkyd-6 Asteroid Prospecting Demonstration Spacecraft (Planetary Resources has since run dry on funding)


Original Submission

Luxembourg Still Interested in Asteroid Mining 67 comments

Luxembourg expands its space resources vision

Étienne Schneider, deputy prime minister of Luxembourg, frequently tells the story of how he got interested in building a space resources industry in the country. His efforts to diversify the country's economy several years ago led to a meeting with Pete Worden, at the time the director of NASA's Ames Research Center and a proponent of many far-reaching space concepts. During an Oct. 22 panel discussion at the International Astronautical Congress (IAC) in Washington, he recalled Worden advocating for commercial space: "Why shouldn't you go for space mining activities?"

"When he explained all this to me, I thought two things," Schneider said. "First of all, what did the guy smoke before coming into the office? And second, how do I get him out of here?"

He eventually bought into Worden's vision, starting a space resources initiative that attracted companies to the country while enacting a space resources law like that in the United States. By the beginning of 2019, though, it looked like it might all be a bad trip. The two major startups in that industry, Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources, had been acquired by other companies with no interest in space resources. Worse, the Planetary Resources deal wiped out an investment of 12 million euros Luxembourg made in the startup.

Schneider is undaunted by those setbacks as he continues work to make Luxembourg a hotbed of entrepreneurial space, a scope that has expanded beyond, but has not abandoned, space resources. During the IAC, the country's year-old space agency signed an agreement with NASA to explore potential cooperation, building on an agreement Luxembourg signed with the U.S. Commerce Department in May. Just before the conference, Luxembourg announced it would partner with the European Space Agency on a space resources center in the country.

The article includes an interview with Schneider.

Previously: Luxembourg Announces Investment in Asteroid Mining

Related:


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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by Ethanol-fueled on Friday January 20 2017, @02:24AM

    by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Friday January 20 2017, @02:24AM (#456335) Homepage

    Those goddamn morons should be figuring out how to deflect asteroids away from Earth rather than harvest them for sheckels.

    • (Score: 5, Insightful) by takyon on Friday January 20 2017, @02:26AM

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Friday January 20 2017, @02:26AM (#456337) Journal

      It's literally the same discipline. Celestial mechanics. Ideally, you would do both by once by corralling potential asteroid threats into orbit around the Moon or Ceres or some place, and then exploit them decades later when it becomes feasible to do so.

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      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by frojack on Friday January 20 2017, @05:13AM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 20 2017, @05:13AM (#456402) Journal

        Because Ceres is so easy to reach?

        Exploit them to do what? Build Toyotas?

        You can't land that much weight on Earth without severe consequences.
        So we will have to use it all in space somewhere. How about out by Ceres, since its so easy to get to...

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        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday January 20 2017, @09:13AM

          by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Friday January 20 2017, @09:13AM (#456448) Journal

          Did you know that it would take less energy to land on and return from Phobos than the Moon?

          Gravity matters more than distance, especially if the asteroid redirection is unmanned and you have plenty of years to do little orbital adjustments with ion engines to get it just right. Putting something around Mars, Ceres, or Phobos could be training for doing it right at the Moon or Earth, where a mistake could be bad.

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      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @07:20AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @07:20AM (#456425)

        It's literally the same discipline.

        More than that, it's literally the first half of the same mission. Capturing an asteroid requires landing on it, applying thrust on the correct direction until it's trajectory is within Earth's gravitational sphere of influence, slowing it down bellow escape velocity once it's actually there and finally positioning it in the correct orbit or in an aerobreaking suborbital trajectory depending on whether you want to utilize it in orbit or on the surface. Deflection only requires landing on it and applying thrust in any direction perpendicular to the prograde vector (that is, the current direction of movement) and would normally take considerably less fuel than aiming it for a capture.

      • (Score: 2) by DannyB on Friday January 20 2017, @05:12PM

        by DannyB (5839) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 20 2017, @05:12PM (#456609) Journal

        then exploit them decades later when it becomes feasible to do so.

        If you put an asteroid into an orbit that can be reached, and it has a lot of valuable treasure on it, then there suddenly becomes an incentive to MAKE it feasible to harvest.

        Even if all that metal cannot be landed on Earth, it could be used for space stations and spacecraft. Again, the value of the materials, already in space, and somewhat accessible, will accelerate the development of technologies to exploit it.

        --
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        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @11:19PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @11:19PM (#456768)

          SHINY SHINY SHINY

          Can haz metlz cheep?

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Runaway1956 on Friday January 20 2017, @03:55AM

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 20 2017, @03:55AM (#456374) Homepage Journal

      So, there's an asteroid on an impact trajectory, and we have to do something about it. WHy not capture it, park it somewhere convenient, and then mine it? You're going to expend a lot of energy deflecting it anyway - might as well expend a little more, and get some good out of the damned thing. As Takyon already said, it's the very same orbital mechanics discipline involved in deflecting or capturing an asteroid, meteor, or alien artifact. Unless, of course, the artifact is shooting back.

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      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Friday January 20 2017, @05:23AM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 20 2017, @05:23AM (#456404) Journal

        Someone burns a few tons of coal, and everybody comes undone and runs screaming about destroying the earth.

        But put something the size of Massachusetts in orbit and that's ok? Wouldn't disrupt a single thing would it? Then land it piecemeal. No possible effect there either?

        We can't predict next weeks weather. We still can't reliably launch a payload much bigger than a School bus.. We got no business dicking around with orbiting large bodies of solid metal that we can't control.

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        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by GreatAuntAnesthesia on Friday January 20 2017, @09:49AM

          by GreatAuntAnesthesia (3275) on Friday January 20 2017, @09:49AM (#456458) Journal

          We got no business dicking around with orbiting large bodies of solid metal that we can't control.

          If those bodies are bumbling about in some safe orbit past Mars then yes, I'd say you have a good point. However in the event that such a body was hurtling towards us and threatening global extinction then we have every business.

          Personally I think trying to move something that size in one go would be way beyond our current capabilities and potentially catastrophic. If we want to mine this thing we need to fly out there, set up a mining (and possibly also manufacturing) base on it and ship the resulting materials to where they are needed. When we have a few decades of experience and tech development from that, maybe we can think about playing planetary billiards.

        • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday January 20 2017, @09:06PM

          by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Friday January 20 2017, @09:06PM (#456707) Journal

          Maybe you are implying that an accident will happen and a city will be flattened. Yeah, I doubt that. But that's why you have the Moon and other places to put your first redirected asteroids.

          Landing an asteroid in the desert is probably going to have less environmental impact than strip mining. But it looks like we will only be using these resources in space for the next century or so, because of the physics and economics.

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          • (Score: 2) by frojack on Sunday January 22 2017, @08:18PM

            by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Sunday January 22 2017, @08:18PM (#457410) Journal

            Landing an asteroid in the desert is probably going to have less environmental impact than strip mining.

            Math fail.

            Find a strip mine as big as Massachusetts and then we can talk.

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            • (Score: 2) by takyon on Sunday January 22 2017, @08:41PM

              by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Sunday January 22 2017, @08:41PM (#457418) Journal

              1. You don't have to land an asteroid the size of Massachusetts. Even a building sized asteroid could have a lot of useful material.
              2. There are deserted places that you can land it. It doesn't matter if you squash a few scorpions in the Sahara or crush a bit of ice in Antarctica.

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    • (Score: 2) by Sulla on Friday January 20 2017, @04:26AM

      by Sulla (5173) on Friday January 20 2017, @04:26AM (#456387) Journal

      What better way to get Trump and the neocons (both Dems and Reps) to invest in space tech than show them the sheckels that can be made. People only care so much about a 'maybe' when it comes to risk of something bad happen, but people care a lot about risk of something good happening.

      --
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      • (Score: 1) by Ethanol-fueled on Friday January 20 2017, @04:50AM

        by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Friday January 20 2017, @04:50AM (#456395) Homepage

        Sorry, bro. I've know you've taken a cue from the NPR playbook, but you're going to have to be more on-topic if you want to successfully derail discussions.

        A Trumperoid 2017 impact in the Middle-east will make Israel great again!

        • (Score: 2) by Sulla on Friday January 20 2017, @07:24AM

          by Sulla (5173) on Friday January 20 2017, @07:24AM (#456427) Journal

          My definition of a great Isreal is just like a great Saudi Arabia. I would prefer a world with both of them as glass. Trumperoid would solve both issues.

          Unsure why you feel astroid exploitation is a problem though. Free market/greed tend to decide a lot of things, wealth in the stars makes it easier for us to get to the stars. Asteroid exploitation will work much better when it comes to colonizing Mars or some of Jupiter's moons. Tacking down how to capure an asteroid of any size will do well toward figuring out how to deflect them, with a bonus of being much better funded. Unsure how trying to trick people into funding asteroid detection and reflection is derailing a thread where you bitched about exploitation stealing resources for detect/reflect. The two go hand in hand.

          --
          Ceterum censeo Sinae esse delendam
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @06:27AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @06:27AM (#456417)

      Those goddamn morons should be figuring out how to deflect asteroids away from Earth rather than harvest them for sheckels.

      Indeed..

      I'll just leave this link [archive.org]here, and refer you to the story "A Better Mousetrap" by John Brunner contained therein...

    • (Score: 2) by davester666 on Friday January 20 2017, @09:05AM

      by davester666 (155) on Friday January 20 2017, @09:05AM (#456446)

      We need more capitalism. Corporations need to band together and figure out how to get it into Earth orbit so they can mine it and make a kajillion dollars. And the free market will easily handle the case where they screw up and it winds up crashing into Earth.

    • (Score: 0, Flamebait) by Gaaark on Friday January 20 2017, @12:45PM

      by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 20 2017, @12:45PM (#456497) Journal

      You're slipping again: it should be "goddamn Jews", no? ;)

      --
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    • (Score: 2) by ledow on Friday January 20 2017, @02:59PM

      by ledow (5567) on Friday January 20 2017, @02:59PM (#456552) Homepage

      Great.

      So in Mission Shove Asteroid out of the way, how much does said asteroid weigh?

      If only there were a way we could land on the thing, find out what it's made of, and determine its shape, size, density, mass, structure, etc. so we could know how much we needed to shove it out of the way and/or blow it up.

      Er... hold on a mo...

      P.S. It's really hard to gauge mass without seeing or measuring a quantifiable gravitational effect.

  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday January 20 2017, @02:24AM

    by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Friday January 20 2017, @02:24AM (#456336) Journal

    It's worthless! It's just stuck there! We gotta live on Psyche? Pssyyyyccheeee!

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @02:28AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @02:28AM (#456339)

    > the iron alone on today’s market would be worth $10,000 quadrillion.

    Come on, the market price would collapse long before that much iron could be sold.

    I think that big number might be better used as the ransom request:
    Vogon: I've got another copy of Massachusetts that I'm going to drop on you earthlings.
    People of Earth: How much do we have to pay to keep you from doing this?
    Vogon: only $10,000 quadrillion. (A quick search suggests this is 20,000 times the world GNP?)
    ...

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Friday January 20 2017, @02:36AM

      by takyon (881) <takyonNO@SPAMsoylentnews.org> on Friday January 20 2017, @02:36AM (#456341) Journal

      It's easy to assign a value to something that can't be economically sold due to physics and current technology.

      I claim Jupiter for $1 trillion decillion.

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      • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Friday January 20 2017, @12:54PM

        by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 20 2017, @12:54PM (#456499) Journal

        How much is that in quatloos, Earthling?

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    • (Score: 2, Touché) by Ethanol-fueled on Friday January 20 2017, @03:49AM

      by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Friday January 20 2017, @03:49AM (#456370) Homepage

      The figure was probably also calculated by NASA scientists, who apparently don't know what ten-quintillion is and are outsourcing their calculations to India.

      " I've discovered a new particle .005 micro-picometers in diameter! "

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Immerman on Friday January 20 2017, @04:02AM

        by Immerman (3985) on Friday January 20 2017, @04:02AM (#456377)

        Would that quintillion be 10¹⁸ or 10³⁰?

      • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Ethanol-fueled on Friday January 20 2017, @04:59AM

        by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Friday January 20 2017, @04:59AM (#456398) Homepage

        My post above was not offtopic. *Harrumph!*

        Now, Niggers, are offtopic and will be for the next 1.5 days because we will see nobody except righteous-but-mislead Whites at the D.C. protests tomorrow. And that's a profound hypothesis because DC is full of Blacks, including Crack-smoking former-mayor Marion Barry. [wikipedia.org]

        Even if Soylentnews runs a story about it then, ni***rs will be offtopic, as there will be no Niggers. Or Bean**s. Just a handful of Whites fooled into bussing in or even flying there and then getting stomped-on by the Hells' Angels and their mamas. It will be Altamont 2.0! [wikipedia.org]

        Let the bloodbath begin.

        • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @05:05AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @05:05AM (#456399)

          Whose guarding Whitey's house if none of the Blacks be gonna at the 'nauguration? Alexa? Hey Lexa lemme in bitch I'm robbin ya while yer cracker ass owner is out sucking off Trump cock!!

          • (Score: -1, Flamebait) by Ethanol-fueled on Friday January 20 2017, @05:30AM

            by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Friday January 20 2017, @05:30AM (#456406) Homepage

            Dassa good point. If I was Black, I'd shouttat all my homies notta protest. Just to inflate the potential protest numbers online identifyin' ourseves as people of Color. Then remind my people, "Yeah, we lost, but at least we can turn the tables on Whitey and laugh at their White-on-White violence like they laugh at our Black-on-Black violence." Then us Blacks can sit comfortable in our scantless apartments laughing heartily smoking blunts and drinking Rossi wine while we watch White-on-White violence. 'Dose pussies ain't shit with'out us. Dey gon' get stomped-on from all-sides.

            Where yo safe space at now, White-boy? White-girl?

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @12:45PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @12:45PM (#456495)

          Strange. Why do you keep making of of your fellow nigger?

          • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Friday January 20 2017, @01:00PM

            by Gaaark (41) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 20 2017, @01:00PM (#456502) Journal

            Because of of him!

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    • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @04:05AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @04:05AM (#456378)

      > > the iron alone on today’s market would be worth $10,000 quadrillion.
      > Come on, the market price would collapse long before that much iron could be sold.

      Therefore, today's market, not after mining some or all of it market...

      • (Score: 2) by Osamabobama on Friday January 20 2017, @10:19PM

        by Osamabobama (5842) on Friday January 20 2017, @10:19PM (#456729)

        ...so the book value is $10,000 quadrillion. I see a bubble waiting to inflate. Later, after the market price collapse, regulators will require company reports to restate value in line with then current market value. Investors will lose billions, but the founders will remain rich, lauded as visionaries.

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    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @01:25PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @01:25PM (#456512)

      Come on, the market price would collapse long before that much iron could be sold.

      That's just a sign that market price is an artifact of a broken system. Iron has intrinsic value, being a pretty good material to construct things out of.

      • (Score: 2) by GreatAuntAnesthesia on Friday January 20 2017, @11:56PM

        by GreatAuntAnesthesia (3275) on Friday January 20 2017, @11:56PM (#456779) Journal

        Exactly. In this situation market collapse == iron is so abundant that everyone can have as much as they need / want. All the useful / beautiful / enjoyable things that can be made from iron would be reduced to cost or labour (robots anyone) plus cost of energy (OK, this one isn't so easy, but it's not unsolvable). And of course it's not just iron - there are other metals in that rock too.

        Post-scarcity utopia anyone?

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by jdavidb on Friday January 20 2017, @02:52AM

    by jdavidb (5690) on Friday January 20 2017, @02:52AM (#456345) Homepage Journal

    I wrote this up the other day and it was rejected as a dupe. :)

    Here's my writeup [soylentnews.org], this story was fascinating to me, and I did a lot of reading and kept pulling in more articles and info:

    NASA is planning an automated mission to explore 16 Psyche, a Massachusetts-sized asteroid which is believed to be made up of valuable metals such as iron, nickel, and gold. [dailystar.co.uk] In fact the value of the minerals in Psyche at current earth prices would total something with an order of magnitude of quadrillions of dollars.

    According to Wikipedia, 16 Psyche [wikipedia.org] is one of the ten most massive asteroids in the asteroid belt and contains almost 1% of the belt's mass. We've known about it since 1852 when it was discovered by Naples astronomer Annibale de Gasparis.

    Of course, there is no technology in existence that could bring a significant portion of Psyche back to earth, so you don't have to worry about precious metals prices or the earth economy collapsing any time soon. Besides, the mission will not reach Psyche until 2030. The mission was approved on January 4th of this year and is planned to launch a refigerator-sized probe in October 2023. There is some evidence for either water or hydroxyl on the surface of Psyche [space.com], and this mission could determine which. Measurements of the chemical composition of the asteroid should also confirm whether or not the asteroid really contains all that precious metal. It has been speculated that Psyche may be the exposed iron core of a protoplanet and may be similar to the core of our own earth, so this mission may be the first to directly measure the chemical composition of a planet core.

    This will be the first major NASA mission led by Arizona State University [azcentral.com]. Principal investigator on the mission will be ASU's professor Lindy Elkins-Tanton, who says that she is "psyched," but hopefully we won't hold such a bad pun against her.

    Meanwhile, NASA is also readying a mission to Trojan asteroid Lucy [technewsgazette.com], which shares an orbit with Jupiter. The Lucy mission will be producing surface maps with the next generation of the LORRI Long Range Reconnaissance Imager that is currently flying on the New Horizons spacecraft that imaged Pluto, and instruments for both missions will be produced by Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory.

    After submitting, I learned that Lucy was the name of the mission to the Jupiter Trojan asteroids rather than the name of a Jupiter Trojan asteroid, so good thing it wasn't posted. :)

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    • (Score: 2) by jdavidb on Friday January 20 2017, @02:55AM

      by jdavidb (5690) on Friday January 20 2017, @02:55AM (#456347) Homepage Journal

      So somebody tell me, does anyone actually believe there is gold in this thing, or is that just journalistic sensationalism? I noticed the article I included that mentioned that didn't seem to be the most reputable looking compared to some of the others.

      I get a chuckle speculating about what would happen if somebody some day is able to pull enough gold and precious metals from space to earth that they aren't valuable any more.

      --
      ⓋⒶ☮✝🕊 Secession is the right of all sentient beings
      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @03:30AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @03:30AM (#456362)

        I get a chuckle speculating about what would happen if somebody some day is able to pull enough gold and precious metals from space to earth that they aren't valuable any more
        We stop strip mining for the stuff?

      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Arik on Friday January 20 2017, @04:17AM

        by Arik (4543) on Friday January 20 2017, @04:17AM (#456382) Journal
        Yeah, there's probably gold in it, though relatively little. A big lump of iron with most stable heavier elements present in trace amounts.

        It would be stupid to bring it to earth though. A total waste. The point to a claim like this is not to bring more iron to earth - it's to avoid having to boost all that iron from earth into space, which would take enormous amounts of energy to do.
        --
        If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
        • (Score: 2) by frojack on Friday January 20 2017, @05:27AM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 20 2017, @05:27AM (#456405) Journal

          The factory we would have to boost up there to take advantage of it would probably weigh as much.
          Not to mention all the coal for the blast furnace. ;-)

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
          • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Arik on Friday January 20 2017, @08:21PM

            by Arik (4543) on Friday January 20 2017, @08:21PM (#456682) Journal
            You don't boost a factory. You boost some tools and some skilled people. The people use the tools and the raw materials to make more tools, in a cascade that eventually results in your factory. You don't want to have to accelerate one gram more than absolutely necessary to escape velocity.
            --
            If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
            • (Score: 2, Informative) by frojack on Sunday January 22 2017, @08:14PM

              by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Sunday January 22 2017, @08:14PM (#457409) Journal

              Ok, lets take one step back then...

              Boosting some primitive tools, and the number of people needed to build a factory using those tools, and the housing needed by those people, and the amount of food needed for those people for the decades it will take to build a factory, and the breathing gasses necessary to work for decades in zero atmosphere, will weight far more than the factory.

              You keep stepping back like this with each more imaginative (read: unrealistic) suggestion, and it gets more and more expensive in money, energy, and time.

              At some point you put the sci-fi books down and you ultimately conclude that the metal floating around in space is useless and valueless until you already have a shipboard factory and shipboard housing and shipboard food production, built on earth with existing metals, and assembled in orbit, and then sent to the target asteroid.

              At some point you simply have to stop handwaiving all these things into existence just because some author in a sci-fi book imagined them. Welcome to the real world. Sorry to burst your bubble son.

              --
              No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Immerman on Friday January 20 2017, @04:40AM

        by Immerman (3985) on Friday January 20 2017, @04:40AM (#456391)

        I'm not sure if there's any direct evidence at this point, but I think it's considered a reasonable speculation - in the absence of planetary geology and weathering effects, metals should tend to congregate together - similar densities (compared to CHON, etc), similar chemistries and responses to electromagnetic forces, etc. So as the protoplanetary disc condensed, the metals would tend to clump together.

        In this case they're going a step further - they think this thing is an ejected protoplanetary core, meaning it would have been subjected to even further density-based concentrations, and likely have a similar ratio of metals to the cores of other rocky planets. Which are kind of an unknown at this point, but predicted to be rich in heavy metals.

        As for speculation... probably similar to if someone figured out a cheap and environmentally friendly method to concentrate valuable metals from seawater - can I interest you in corrosion-resistant gold-plated sewer pipes? Most "precious metals" actually have physically valuable properties, totally aside from the dollar value our economic game assigns them.

      • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @01:33PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @01:33PM (#456517)

        I get a chuckle speculating about what would happen if somebody some day is able to pull enough gold and precious metals from space to earth that they aren't valuable any more.

        For copper, people stealing cables to sell for scrap value would stop.

        For gold, we would start to at least gold plate every connector, if not simply replace copper with gold entirely in electronic circuits, because gold is much more corrosion-resistant (I'm not sure whether or not it's also a better conductor).

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @03:08PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @03:08PM (#456556)

          I'm not sure whether or not it's also a better conductor

          Gold is a very good conductor but copper is a somewhat better conductor than gold for the same thickness of material. The primary advantages of gold for electronics are that it does not corrode easily, and it is more malleable and ductile.

          I suspect gold wires do not break as easily as copper due to metal fatigue. So if gold was cheap you might find it used as the conductive material in thin flexible cables.

        • (Score: 2) by captain_nifty on Friday January 20 2017, @03:47PM

          by captain_nifty (4252) on Friday January 20 2017, @03:47PM (#456569)

          We'd likely use silver wire for most things, it is one of the best conductors, better than copper. Gold is also a good conductor, better than aluminum but worse than copper.

          Gold has the downside of being a relatively soft metal, if lined in plumbing it would wear off via erosion fairly quickly. But we might use a lot more gold alloys. Really if you get into post scarcity gold, silver, and diamonds other precious materials have some great design properties, diamonds have high thermal conductivity making them great for heat exchangers. One thing to look at is todays increasing use of Sapphire as a clear screen material, we can make them artificially lowering the price, but today we make small windows out of jewels!

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 21 2017, @05:28AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 21 2017, @05:28AM (#456864)

            Gold is also a good conductor, better than aluminum but worse than copper.

            Well, it's hard to compare aluminum and copper or gold directly like that. Gold and copper beat aluminum for the same thickness, but aluminum is much less dense so it is a better conductor (even better than copper) for the same mass.

            Gold is a very dense metal (about twice as dense as lead) so if you care about mass you probably would not use much of it.

  • (Score: 2, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @03:09AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @03:09AM (#456354)

    The iron in the Earth's core is closer and far more plentiful. There should be news articles about harvesting that.

    • (Score: 3, Touché) by Dunbal on Friday January 20 2017, @03:23AM

      by Dunbal (3515) on Friday January 20 2017, @03:23AM (#456359)

      Next solve hunger by eating your own leg.

      • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @04:46AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @04:46AM (#456393)

        We need to outlaw space mining immediately, because it could mean jobs for poor people, and the poor people deserve to be poor.

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Runaway1956 on Friday January 20 2017, @03:41AM

      by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 20 2017, @03:41AM (#456367) Homepage Journal

      The iron in earth's core has little if any value. It's difficult to get at, not to mention that getting to it would involve processes that are probably going to damage the ecosystem. Not to mention - we don't really need a lot more iron on earth.

      Far more profitable to mine that iron in space, outside of the gravity well - then USE IT in space.

      Build the foundries and factories right there, on the asteroid. Construct a habitat with the materials mined from the asteroid. All that is required are some people, some water, some oxygen - just build the colony on or beside the asteroid, and go into business selling hi-tech stuff to people who want to explore the rest of the solar system.

      No need to drop all that stuff on the earth.

      --
      There is a supply side shortage of pronouns. You will take whatever you are offered.
      • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @04:08AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @04:08AM (#456379)

        just build the colony on or beside the asteroid

        Or, even better, inside the asteroid. Kilometers of free radiation shielding, and the more you mine, the more living/manufacturing space you have.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @04:59AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @04:59AM (#456397)

          But zero access to Facebook not even Facebook Zero. Life without social media is not living.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @02:29PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @02:29PM (#456540)

            Hmm, currently 20.6 light minutes away. We'll have to route over DTN [nasa.gov], but I bet it could be done. Maybe hook up a proxy Earth-side vacuum up the AJAXy crap, transmit one blob, and have a server at 16 Psyche decompress and present the relevant URLs over TCP+HTTP locally.

            Though perhaps a simple RSS feed would work better. Perhaps bridge Freenet over DTN so it can lazy-fetch content you might want over the 41 minute round trip then freely browse from the 16 Psyche node.

            All is not lost!

          • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Friday January 20 2017, @03:06PM

            by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Friday January 20 2017, @03:06PM (#456555) Homepage Journal

            I really don't think Facebook is all that time sensitive. It's hardly any more time sensitive than discussions right here, on Soylent. You comment while the Aussies are asleep, few hours later, they post their comments on your comment, that Asians comment whenever they feel like it, etc, ad nauseum. The time lag would in no way affect our ability to carry on a conversation, here, or on Facefook.

            --
            There is a supply side shortage of pronouns. You will take whatever you are offered.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @05:07AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @05:07AM (#456400)

        I'm pretty sure the post was being sarcastic, Admiral Aspergers.

    • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Friday January 20 2017, @04:25AM

      by Immerman (3985) on Friday January 20 2017, @04:25AM (#456386)

      And all we have to do to harvest it is dig a hole hundreds of times deeper than anyone has ever managed, using mining equipment able to operate at 10,000F, and avoid destroying the Earth's magnetosphere and leaving the planet an airless wasteland in the process! (Okay, we'd probably have to get really greedy for that last bit)

      Not to mention the fact that the energy requirements to lift something from the core to the surface would be almost as much as to send it from the surface into orbit - a bit over 3*10⁷J/kg either way - so energetically speaking it's not actually much closer.

      I think it's safe to say that iron was used because it's pretty much the cheapest metal around, and probably among the least valuable of the asteroid's resources, financially speaking. Besides, it's *way* more convenient to mine in space than in the core - most of the technology is already in the prototype stage, and if you're not in a hurry you can move stuff anywhere in the solar system practically for free using the so-called Interplanetary Transport Network of gravitational slingshots. The expensive part is getting into orbit from Earth, and the price is falling fast. Sending stuff back is cheap and easy - the only hard part is not blowing up anything important when it lands.

      To say nothing of the fact that huge quantities of near-pure iron will be immensely valuable for constructing infrastructure in space. You don't even need much technology, even a cast-iron or welding-deposited space station would be quite serviceable until local infrastructure is capable of more sophisticated construction.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @02:47PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @02:47PM (#456545)

        and if you're not in a hurry you can move stuff anywhere in the solar system practically for free using the so-called Interplanetary Transport Network of gravitational slingshots

        Yeah, you can get it there and enjoy watching it fly past because you don't have a way to stop it.

        • (Score: 2) by Immerman on Saturday January 21 2017, @05:41PM

          by Immerman (3985) on Saturday January 21 2017, @05:41PM (#457023)

          So pick a different path that has it ending it's journey with a velocity-shedding slingshot around the moon and ending up in Earth's orbit instead. There's a near-infinite number of ITN paths to get from A to B, all with different approach vectors.

    • (Score: 1) by kanweg on Friday January 20 2017, @10:11AM

      by kanweg (4737) on Friday January 20 2017, @10:11AM (#456462)

      And the best thing is perhaps that it is already molten!

      Bert

  • (Score: 2) by Snotnose on Friday January 20 2017, @03:47AM

    by Snotnose (1623) on Friday January 20 2017, @03:47AM (#456369)

    The price of iron will collapse, call it 100 to 1. Come up with a way to bring it back, figure a couple billion. Then bring it back, sell it, learn from your mistakes, aim at the next asteroid. Buy a few hundred acres in Hawaii, sue people around you, and profit.

    --
    I fondly remember the day I made sandcastles with my grandmother. Just wish I hadn't done it in the crematorium.
    • (Score: 2) by WalksOnDirt on Friday January 20 2017, @04:10AM

      by WalksOnDirt (5854) on Friday January 20 2017, @04:10AM (#456380) Journal

      I doubt it will ever make sense to send the iron to earth. The precious metals, well maybe, but not anytime soon.

      • (Score: 0, Flamebait) by Ethanol-fueled on Friday January 20 2017, @05:41AM

        by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Friday January 20 2017, @05:41AM (#456407) Homepage

        Rare-Earth metals are where it's at, and the Chinks have them.

        The next world war will be not about artificial islands or currency manipulation or the One-China policy, [wikipedia.org] it will be about rare-Earth metals. Countries are literally bottom-feeding, scraping the seafloor for them. Especially around the South-China Sea. The problem is, that Americans are weary of going to war over natural resources, so it must be spun about something else equally unpalatable to anybody with half a brain, but I digress.

        You read it here first.

        As you did my previous guess, which was posted [soylentnews.org] before the official release.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @08:51AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @08:51AM (#456443)

    Rare Earths are what they would like you to think what this "asteroid mining" is about.

    It is about Monoatomic Gold. It is what the Annunaki came to Earth for.

    http://survincity.com/2011/03/monatomic-gold-reptilians-occupiers/ [survincity.com]

    http://beforeitsnews.com/paranormal/2015/03/the-sumerian-anunnaki-and-the-origin-of-mankind-2485016.html [beforeitsnews.com]

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @02:29PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @02:29PM (#456541)

      What is this I don't even

      Without going into all the scientific details when you absorb it monoatomic gold by mouth or injection, it increases the flow of air, increasing the chances of the nervous system in the tens of thousands.

      This should allow a person to handle the fantastic amounts of information like a supercomputer and when enough monozolota absorbed, it should allow them to consciously move through other dimensions and lycanthropy because suddenly the brain is activated to open those vast areas that we do not use in the world today. This restores brain cells, so that they again begin to communicate with each other...

      This substance gave reptiles and gives amazing ability to process information and lycanthropy due to unsustainable amounts of energy that they can maintain and handle. I'm sure the ancients Egyptians, Sumerians, Babylonians, Phoenicians, etc. monoatomic gold used to be more precise — it made them the ruling elite, giving them a mental potential, which is forbidden the general population.

  • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Friday January 20 2017, @10:49AM

    by Phoenix666 (552) on Friday January 20 2017, @10:49AM (#456473) Journal

    How much of those metals are we actually going to need, given the pace of progress of research into graphene and carbon nanotubes? Once we figure out how to produce the stuff in bulk it's going to replace a large chunk of our material culture that is currently handled with metals, because it outperforms metals across so many indices and is comprised of carbon which we're never going to run out of.

    --
    Washington DC delenda est.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @01:20PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @01:20PM (#456510)

      comprised of carbon which we're never going to run out of

      You know, we had been wrong before ... repeatedly.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @07:12PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday January 20 2017, @07:12PM (#456655)

    ofc we regularly discard valuable items from orbit already.
    spend money digging it out of the ground, refining it, assembling it, shooting it into orbit and then because
    every country has the "we're TEH best!" bug, it doesn't interconnect and we just de-orbit it into some ocean.

    "mankind" is strangely, written different in every language and thus my "mankind" isn't your "mankind".

    anyways, to "mine" an asteroid, it would probably be best to lower orbit to something between earth and venus
    and to "break it up" into a ring a few millimeters in diameter, like the rings of saturn.
    then some robots can slowly move along the spaghetti-fied asteroid and pick out interesting stuff from the ring, in the kilo range (not "make america great again"-pounds, mind you)?

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 21 2017, @03:12AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 21 2017, @03:12AM (#456836)

    In my college economics class, one day the prof puts a donut on his desk.

    "I have an extra donut I don't need." he said. "Does anyone want it?"
    About 10 hands go up. "Oh, looks like we'll need to have an auction." The price quickly escalates, helped with a little prodding from the prof, and eventually he gets a price of $20 for the donut. The buyer takes it and relishes his victory over his deprived classmates.
    The prof then says "Ok, now that we've established the price of a donut..." and brings out the rest of the dozen he had hidden behind the desk.
    I think the last one went for less than a dollar.

    Great lesson.