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Thread: Mining Asteroids

  1. #1 Mining Asteroids 
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    .... as well as Mars, and some small moons. Supposing we can get the logistics all out of the way first, what raw materials would we actually find out there?

    Are there predicted to be any rare Earth elements like Gold, or Platinum, or Uranium up there? Would it be a good place to find iron?


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  3. #2 Re: Mining Asteroids 
    Moderator Moderator Janus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    .... as well as Mars, and some small moons. Supposing we can get the logistics all out of the way first, what raw materials would we actually find out there?

    Are there predicted to be any rare Earth elements like Gold, or Platinum, or Uranium up there? Would it be a good place to find iron?
    Iron would probably be you best bet on the asteroids. While there would probably be some of the rare elements, there would not be the geothermal and other processes that form actual deposits, so they would likely be harder to mine. Mars has had some activity of this type, so deposits might have formed there.


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  4. #3  
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    Iridium. Pretty useful element we might mine the asteroids for.
    Disclaimer: I do not declare myself to be an expert on ANY subject. If I state something as fact that is obviously wrong, please don't hesitate to correct me. I welcome such corrections in an attempt to be as truthful and accurate as possible.

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  5. #4 Re: Mining Asteroids 
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    Quote Originally Posted by Janus
    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    .... as well as Mars, and some small moons. Supposing we can get the logistics all out of the way first, what raw materials would we actually find out there?

    Are there predicted to be any rare Earth elements like Gold, or Platinum, or Uranium up there? Would it be a good place to find iron?
    Iron would probably be you best bet on the asteroids. While there would probably be some of the rare elements, there would not be the geothermal and other processes that form actual deposits, so they would likely be harder to mine. Mars has had some activity of this type, so deposits might have formed there.
    So prospecting for rare deposits is only practical on heavy gravity wells? That's depressing ;-(

    Do you think the Moon counts as a place where we might find some of them, since it used to be very molten?
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    My question is what are you going to do with whatever you find? Refine it into the pure material-highly energy and equipment intensive. Imagine building a steel mill on the moon. Furthermore pure elements are pretty poor structural materials. Now we need to get all the othe stukk to make steel C,Mn,Cr,Mo,Si,Ni etc , where does that come from? Ok now suppose you did the former and got iron ingots now you have to fabricate it into sheet, tube angle or bar stock,how in your moon factory?now you have to fabricate it into something in your moon machine shop I suppose.This is just the tip of the iceberg the logistics are mind boggling.
    The alternative is mine the raw material and transport it back to earth, it would have to be really valuable stuff to even justify the cost.
    Better to stick to scientific exploration for now.
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  7. #6 Re: Mining Asteroids 
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    Quote Originally Posted by kojax
    Do you think the Moon counts as a place where we might find some of them, since it used to be very molten?
    Do you like Basalt?
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  8. #7  
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    On my Basalmic Salad, all the time.

    related quote; "That's a nice Gneiss."
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  9. #8  
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    Quote Originally Posted by fizzlooney
    My question is what are you going to do with whatever you find? Refine it into the pure material-highly energy and equipment intensive. Imagine building a steel mill on the moon.
    During mid day on the moon, you could use mirrors to focus quite a lot of heat on something. It all depends on how far along manufacturing tech gets on the moon base. I'd be happy if they could just do basic steel working, to build structural materials for expanding the colony itself.


    Furthermore pure elements are pretty poor structural materials. Now we need to get all the othe stukk to make steel C,Mn,Cr,Mo,Si,Ni etc , where does that come from? Ok now suppose you did the former and got iron ingots now you have to fabricate it into sheet, tube angle or bar stock,how in your moon factory?now you have to fabricate it into something in your moon machine shop I suppose.This is just the tip of the iceberg the logistics are mind boggling.
    The focus on pure elements would be sending them back to Earth, to help solve scarcity problems. Uranium might be kept on the Moon to use as fuel during the long nights, but most of the platinum would probably go back to Earth.

    The alternative is mine the raw material and transport it back to earth, it would have to be really valuable stuff to even justify the cost.
    Better to stick to scientific exploration for now.
    Basically, the focus would be on building huge re-entry gliders from a Moon base. I'm pretty sure getting back down to the surface isn't too hard a barrier, so long as you have a Moon base that's far enough along in its development.
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  10. #9  
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    You trivialize too much the complexity and cost of space flight, this isn't like mining borax in death valley with a 20 mule wagon.
    Think seriously about what I said about building a factory on the moon.
    I know of nothing so vluable to justify the cost.
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    Perhaps Helium 3; it has great potential as a future fusion fuel.
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  12. #11  
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    Quote Originally Posted by fizzlooney
    You trivialize too much the complexity and cost of space flight, this isn't like mining borax in death valley with a 20 mule wagon.
    Think seriously about what I said about building a factory on the moon.
    I know of nothing so vluable to justify the cost.
    So true. Unfortunatly a lot of sci-fi writers are lazy when it comes to imagination. They have a hard time explaining exactly why a crew is in some inhospitable backwater of the galaxy...solution...a mining crew...lame but the uninformed will lap it up.
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  13. #12  
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    Quote Originally Posted by fizzlooney
    You trivialize too much the complexity and cost of space flight, this isn't like mining borax in death valley with a 20 mule wagon.
    Think seriously about what I said about building a factory on the moon.
    I know of nothing so vluable to justify the cost.

    It's a question of economy of scale. Whatever we find out there, there will probably be so much of it that it's almost like having an infinite supply. How many centuries would it take for us to burn all the methane on Titan, for example?

    There's huge up front cost, but everything becomes comparatively cheap from then on after you've paid that upfront cost. It's just like cell phones, and computer chips. As soon as you get up to a certain threshold of accomplishment, everything takes off, and pretty soon it's everyday stuff.
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    A significant portion of everday commerce is transportation truck,rail,air& ship.
    do you seriously think that you will get iterplanetary space travel costs cheap enogh to justify hauling relatively cheap raw materials billions of miles?
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  15. #14  
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    Quote Originally Posted by fizzlooney
    A significant portion of everday commerce is transportation truck,rail,air& ship.
    do you seriously think that you will get iterplanetary space travel costs cheap enogh to justify hauling relatively cheap raw materials billions of miles?
    In space, I would think it would almost be even cheaper to transport stuff. Imagine an ocean of water that has absolutely no friction. If you hurl an object in the right direction, with the right initial trajectory, it will drift to its target un-aided.
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    Why wouldn't we have to look to space for mining?

    Non-renewable resources are a fact of this planet. What do you do when you're running out of metals? Deplete seawater for them? Do you dig deeper into the crust - at what point is nudging metal-rich asteroids more cost-effective?

    We imagine population stabilizing in the future, but what if it doesn't?
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  17. #16  
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    theoretically everything could be found 'out there' asteroids large enough to contain molten rock and therefore have volcanic activity (planets too) would contain geothermal substances like gems and marble, but your bog standerd carbon/iron/titanium etc would be in plentiful supplies near enough everywhere
    It's not how many questions you ask, but the answers you get - Booms

    This is the Acadamy of Science! we don't need to 'prove' anything!
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