While not literally pie in the sky, asteroid mining used to be science fiction. It’s getting closer to reality. Various private space companies have focused on launching satellites, with hazy side-bets on future colonization ventures. And now, technological advances make mining asteroids a legitimate prospect.
There are millions of asteroids in space, many orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. Those closer to Earth tend to be carbon- or silica-based, like Earth’s crust, with only a few containing more valuable minerals.
Some asteroids are iron-based, with other elements. Some scientists speculate that many asteroids contain lucratively high proportions of gold, platinum, rhodium, cobalt and even rarer metals. These are used in electronics, metal alloys, permanent magnets, batteries and electric motors (importantly, the motors of electric vehicles). Continue Reading →