Two Metal-Rich Near-Earth Asteroids Could Be Prime Candidates for Space Mining

The concept of mining asteroids for metals has progressed from science fiction to the world of start-up firms. One issue is that only a small percentage of asteroids are rich in what we require, and most of these are located at the outside reaches of the main asteroid belt, which is inconvenient. An examination of two smaller asteroids, which come close to Earth on occasion, suggests that they are of scientific and commercial significance. Even adjusting for the influence of a new source of supply on metal prices, one of them might be worth an estimated 11 trillion dollars if mined over 50 years. 16 is an asteroid. Psyche aptly titled since it has a firm grasp on the minds of those who fantasize about riches in space. Psyche is the Solar System’s largest metal-rich body, assumed mostly form of iron and nickel and lacking in the troublesome silicon, carbon, and oxygen that dominate the Earth’s surface and most bodies in space.

Psyche, on the other hand, never gets closer to the Sun than 2.5 astronomical units. Even above the difficulties of moving mining equipment out of our planet’s gravity well, the expense of returning any items to Earth would be enormous. NASA has a mission scheduled for next year to investigate Psyche, but astronomers have identified two additional interesting targets, 1986 DA and 2016 ED85, both designated as Near Earth Asteroids, in The Planetary Science Journal (NEAs). “Our investigation shows that both NEAs have surfaces that are 85 percent metal, such as iron and nickel, and 15 percent silicate material, which is basically Rock,” stated Dr. Juan Sanchez of the Planetary Science Institute. “These asteroids resemble some stony-iron meteorites known on Earth, such as mesoiderites.” The conclusion is based on a comparison of the compositions of several classes of known asteroids, as well as the brightness and color spectrum of both, as well as radar reflections from 1986 DA.

Two Metal-Rich Near-Earth Asteroids Could Be Prime Candidates for Space Mining

Asteroids like this are assumed to have a high metal content because they originated from an object that became large enough for most of its metals to sink to the core, similar to what happened on Earth. The core pieces of this tiny planet were mostly metallic when it was destroyed by a cataclysm. “These two mini Psyches,’ we believe, are likely debris from a massive metallic asteroid in the main belt, but not 16 Psyche itself,” said undergraduate student David Cantillo.

Since Tutankhamen possessed a dagger crafted from a stony-iron meteorite, humanity has been mining space rocks for at least 3,400 years. Waiting for them to come to us, on the other hand, is a long process.

The 1986 DA is estimated to be 2.4 kilometers (1.5 miles) wide. Despite its diminutive size in comparison to Psyche, much alone the Earth, the paper estimates that 1986 DA has 28 billion tonnes of iron and 2.5 billion tonnes of nickel, as well as smaller but more important amounts of cobalt and precious metals. “We anticipated that the quantity of [these] metals contained in 1986 DA could exceed the reserves worldwide,” the authors wrote. There is also a significant amount of gold and copper. A single asteroid may supply humanity for a very long period if space mining becomes commercially viable. Despite their nomenclature, NEAs like these spend the majority of their time outside of Mars’ orbit. Approaches do happen now and again like as one in September 2020 when 2016 ED85 became visible. They make travels to and from these NEAs rapid and cheap if timed correctly, despite the fact that such interactions take years. Most metal-rich asteroids, on the other hand, have somewhat circular orbits 2.85-3.0 times the Earth is, making them far more difficult to reach than Mars.