Data released by researchers show that one of the two metallic asteroids floating in Earth’s vicinity could contain precious minerals worth more than $11 trillion. The researchers expect that the asteroid may have more cobalt, nickel and iron than the global metal reserves combined. These metal-rich asteroids have been dubbed 2016 ED85 and 1986 DA.
The findings from the study’s analysis were reported in the “Planetary Science” journal, with researchers noting that the two asteroids are potential targets for asteroid mining in the future.
The popularity of space mining has increased in the scientific community as experts believe it could offer cost-effective metals for a lunar-based colony, which would help extend humanity’s reach in space exploration. Additionally, the presence of a cosmic mine would eliminate the need to have building materials flown from Earth to space.
In its report, the team of researchers suggests that these asteroids may help shed light on the authenticity of the shiny space globe dubbed 16 Psyche. This mysterious body is said to be made up of valleys and hills made of pure metal. Researchers assert that the asteroids may be the core of an ancient planet that was destroyed, noting that the Earth’s core looks similar to it. NASA is planning to explore the globe in 2022, which it suspects contains minerals worth $10 thousand quadrillion. However, until a spacecraft inspects the mysterious core, considerable doubt remains.
The study also makes mention of the presence of smaller asteroids, which researchers believe may have broken off another core. The researchers plan to use precise spectrum analysis that uses absorption signals and electromagnetic emission to learn the compositions of these objects as they are close to the Earth, which makes it easier to capture spectral information regarding the elements.
The principal investigator of this study, which was funded by a grant from NASA, is associate professor Vishnu Reddy from the Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona. In a statement, Reddy noted that it was rewarding to discover the presence of smaller asteroids that were close to our home planet.
The researchers also reported that they had discovered that the orbiting masses were made up 15% silicate with the remaining percentage being occupied by metals, including nickel and iron. Silicate is basically normal rock. The team hopes to learn more about 16 Psyche by sifting through the gathered data while also conducting more research on the smaller asteroids that are in close proximity to Earth.
If space mining from these asteroids becomes a reality, it would be a significant way to supplement the minerals extracted on Earth by companies such as Asia Broadband Inc. (OTC: AABB), thereby ensuring that the demand for these minerals is met for decades to come.
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