July 20, 2024

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Extracting raw materials from the moon and asteroids

Extracting raw materials from the moon and asteroids

space MiningThat is, extracting resources from asteroids, Earth’s satellites, and other celestial bodies is a relatively new area of ​​exploration, but it has the potential to change the way we live and transform the world. International Economy. Recent developments indicate that mining in space It is gradually getting closer to becoming a reality. But can asteroids really help us replenish scarce resources on Earth?

Experts answer that the challenges are great, while the “game” seems to be starting to come into play as well ChinaWhich recently revealed its vision for exploiting space resources. Asteroids could save us from shortages of essential resources being depleted in Earth’s mines, according to the Financial Times. Potential exploitation “targets” include asteroid 16 Psyche, a potato-shaped piece of metal about 226 kilometers in diameter that orbits the Sun in the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars, hundreds of millions of kilometers from Earth.

the NASA Psyche is preparing to launch the Psyche mission this fall, which will explore the unusual asteroid of the same name, which is said to contain minerals worth several trillion dollars.

It is estimated to consist almost entirely of iron, nickel and perhaps smaller amounts of gold, platinum and cobalt, and is worth up to 75 times the entire global economy. Of course, NASA did not plan the mission for financial gain: studying the asteroid is expected to provide evidence of the evolution of the solar system and the formation of rocky planets like Earth.

Asteroid 16 Psyche is said to contain minerals worth several trillion dollars such as iron and nickel.

Designed for tracking and monitoring, NASA’s mission will not mine rare earths, a mission that will be undertaken by startups like California-based AstroForge, one of the last private companies to venture into space mining. In April 2023, it launched a small test robot as a prelude to another planned mission to a real asteroid, 35 million kilometers away.

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Experts say the space mining sector is still a long way from harvesting the resources, and the costs will be astronomical. The moon is another much closer target for rare metals and other materials like helium-3, a potential superfuel for nuclear power generation, but getting there is also expensive. Experts warn that the cost of mining in space may never be recovered, because successful missions could lead to a glut and collapse of metal prices on Earth. Another problem is the lack of clear, binding and unilateral agreements governing the exploitation of resources in space, which may create conflicts and exacerbate inequality on Earth. The long-awaited space mining “boom” has not yet materialized, but some investors and scientists still believe it is only a matter of time.

As the issue returns to the forefront, China, in turn, reveals its vision for using space resources. The ambitious initiative, named after scientist Song Yingxing’s work “Exploiting the Works of Nature” (Tiangong Kaiwu), from the Ming Dynasty, has the potential to transform the global space economy and raise China’s profile in the world of space exploration, the South China Morning Post reported. books. The project, led by Wang Wei, a distinguished scientist from the China Space Science and Technology Association, aims to explore, extract and economically use water and mineral resources beyond Earth’s borders.