How Asteroids Can Save Mankind

How Asteroids Can Save Mankind

How Asteroids can save mankind

Asteroid mining may seem like science fiction, but with resources running short on Earth, mining the sky could be humanity's only hope.

Earth's Metal Depletion

Sb Batteries 51 Antimony

Cn Brass 30 Instruments Zinc

Sn Cans 50 Tin

Sn Jewellery 50 Silver

Pb Bullets 82 Lead

In LCD 49 Screens Indium

Au Rings 79 Gold

Cu Electrical 29 wires Copper

Ca Magnets 27 Cobalt

Pt Circuit 78 Board Platinum

Antimony, zinc, tin, silver, lead, indium, gold, copper, cobalt and platinum are some of these elements.

Platinum is of prime importance

The annual supply is the equivalent of 6% of the western world's gold mining.

88% of it's production comes from just 3 mines in South Africa

30x rarer than gold

Essential for electronics and jewellery.

Platinum is expected to be depleted in 20-30 years

World Platinum Extraction

Extraction Rate (Metric Tonnes/year) 550 Present day 450 350 250 150 50 -50 1900 1920 1940 1960 1980 2000 2020 2040 2060 2080 2100

World Extraction Rate (Metric Tonnes)

The untapped potential of Asteroids

Near-Earth Asteroids are packed to the brim with precious metals and resources. Exploiting them could provide us with a near-infinite supply of precious resources.

Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) can be broken down into 3 main categories:

C-type Asteroids Carbonaceous-type asteroid, composed mostly of carbon. Resources Water Ammonia Methane (Natural Gas) Nitrogen

M-Type Asteroids Metal-type asteroids, made of pure nickel-iron (stainless steel) Resources Iron Nickel cobalt Platinum Group Metals

S-type Asteroids Stony-type asteroids, made mostly of iron and magnesium ores. Resources Iron Nickel Magnesium Titanium

Notable NEAs

Earth (not to scale)

1 2062 Aten 900 mi S-Type Discovered in 2004

2 433 Eros 34,000 mi S-Type 2nd-largest NEO

3 1221 Amor 1,500 mi C or S Type Crosses orbit of Mars

4 1862 1,700 mi Q-Type Has a tiny (80 mi) Moon

5 3200 Phaethon 5,100 mi B-Type Passed very close to the earth in 2007

Let's look at what a single Asteroid can do

The smallest M-type asteroid that's been subject to detailed chemical study is 3554 Amun.

3554 Amun is 2km in diameter and has a mass of around 30 billion tons (80,000 Empire State Buildings).

To launch that much mass into space using the rockets we have today would cost $300,000,000 Billion

Equivalent to the global gross domestic product of Earth for the next 30,000 years.

3554 Amun - Reserves

Fe & Ni Iron & Nickel $8, 000 Billion Co Cobalt $6,000 Billion Pt Platinum $6,000 Billion

Earths current output Fe & Ni $340 Billion Co $1.3 Billion Pt $12 Billion

This one small asteroid would provide the earth with enough metal for decades. It would also provide the potential for a space program then thousand times larger than currently exists.

Is it all just pie in the sky?

Planetary Resources

Planetary resources are currently developing the leo telescope, the world's first commercial space telescope, to scan near-Earth objects and asses their potential for future exploration.

Their Mission

"Apply Commercial, innovative techniques to explore space."

Their present strategy is to develop, sell and use cost-reducing telescopes to scan near-Earth objects such as asteroids, to understand their potential for futire asteroid-mining capabilities.

This may all seem like pie in the sky... until you catch a glimpse of Planetary Resources' key investors.

Larry Page Co-founder of Google

Eric Schmidt Previous CEO of Google

James Cameron Film Director

Charles Simonyi Developer of Microsoft's Office Suite

The future of mining is not under the earth, it's in the sky.

How Asteroids Can Save Mankind

shared by androidtabletfanatic on Nov 09, 2012 in Science


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A concise infographic detailing the possibility of mining asteroids to keep the Earth supplied in some of it's most basic metals.
Category: Science



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