CM – Two asteroids estimated to be worth billions of dollars are in the crosshairs of researchers – The Clare People


Metal-rich asteroids are of great interest to researchers not only to study the composition of the solar system and investigate its origins, but also for the possibility of future space mining. Although these near-earth objects are rare, a new study mentions two asteroids that look like good places to extract large amounts of iron, nickel, and cobalt.

Space extraction is not a new idea – some were debating as early as the 1970s Scientists adopted this idea and assessed not only the economic opportunities, but also the environmental benefits. The premise is simple: If industry can extract valuable metals from asteroids in space, the planet could be spared environmental damage.

New research published in the Planetary Science Journal examined two apparently rich asteroids in metals relatively close to Earth: o 1986 ED82, it’s that (6178) 1986 GIVES. The first of these was originally estimated to be 90,000 tons of platinum group metals, including gold.

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(Image: Reproduction / NASA)

Astronomers suspect that these asteroids are actually the remains of the nuclei of developing planets that were destroyed in the early history of the solar system. According to the new article, their spectral signatures are similar to the gigantic 31 psyche (Psyche), the 85 km largest metal-rich body in the solar system, consisting of 90.5% metal. Psyche is located in the main asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, so it is further away from Earth. Nevertheless, NASA plans to send a mission there.

Going back to near-Earth asteroids, the study authors estimated that they consist of% metal (including iron and nickel) and 10% silicate material, i.e. essentially rock. They are quite similar to some iron meteorites found on Earth, and maybe there is a relationship between all of these metallic boulders – it could be that the 2016 ED85 and the (6178) 1986 are fragments of a large metallic asteroid from the main belt. If so, the metallic meteorites that fall on Earth may have the same origin.

O (2016) 1986 DA belongs to the asteroid group Cupid, which orbits rocks very close to Earth’s orbit, this one however do not cross. It has a minimum intersection of the Earth’s orbit of 0.1024 AU (1 AU equals the average distance between the Sun and Earth) and crosses the orbit of Mars, in addition to approaching the orbit of Jupiter.

O 2016 ED85 is slightly different and belongs to the Apollo group. Also, it’s farther from Earth at around 4.18 UA and presents a spectrum very similar to that of 2016. However, the article states that because of these spectral similarities, the ED85 can only be considered a metal-rich body candidate as it is not yet possible to get more accurate data. The authors assumed that « the spectral properties of the object are dominated by the presence of metal » confirmed by radar « 

Finally, the authors conclude the article by addressing the opportunities of mining in DA 1986, to be closer to Earth, and a more distant way to explore the more distant ED85. Due to the large amount of metal and near-earth passages, they can be the target of future studies for a possible drafting of a mining project. However, the analysis presented in the paper should « be viewed as a rough estimate, » the authors write. , apparent density and abundance of space rock components. Therefore, the study made a number of assumptions on the assumption that « the measured properties of the surface of the asteroid are representative of the entire body ». In addition, estimates of the cost of developing the technology required to mine these asteroids were not included in the study.

Despite all of these limitations, the article published in the Planetary Science Journal may be a very useful first step for future ones Be studies.

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