Skip to comments.Capturing an asteroid into Earth orbit
Posted on 08/25/2011 10:03:57 AM PDT by BobZimmerman
Want to mine an asteroid? Rather than travel to it with all their mining equipment, three Chinese scientists have proposed a better way. In a paper published today on the Los Alamos astro-ph preprint website, they have calculated the energy required to shift the orbits of the six thousand near-Earth asteroids and place them in Earth orbit for later mining. Of these, they found 46 asteroids that had the potential for such an operation, and two likely candidates for a space mission. One 30-foot-wide asteroid, 2008EA9, will actually be in the right place for this technique in 2049.
(Excerpt) Read more at behindtheblack.com ...
gee, what could go wrong?
In before the ‘we are doomed’ crowd.
wow, my thoughts exactly. This is a terrible idea, we can’t even put a satalite into orbit 100% of the time, do we really want to risk the extinction of the entire planet on a silly idea like this?
30’ wide? They propose doing something like this for a rock that will fit in a big mining loader with room to spare?
That thing better be made of solid gold to justify the price.
Trying it on a thirty foot wide asteroid would be almost risk free to try.
And what benefit does this 30 ft lump of rock have over any other 30 foot lump of rock already on the surface of the earth? Typical space cadet stuff. Spend a 100 million dollars and get nothing for it but a rock.
Is a 30 foot wide asteroid of sufficient value? Most houses are bigger. However, it does underscore the revolutionary effect of starting to get stuff from outside the Earth.
“gee, what could go wrong?”
Too much too even contemplate.........
I've heard the Chinese have more gifted students than America has students. Just sayin'...
Here’s the benefit: not having to launch raw materials into orbit for later construction of space stations and space faring vehicles.
Launching stuff is very expensive per pound. If, instead, you could launch a small metal producing factory, that could produce hundreds of times it’s own weight in metal from mined asteroids, it would have astronomical savings.
Shhhhhhh......don't let Obama learn about it!
Some of these rocks are almost solid nickel for one and contain even more valuable elements. Another reason would be that it offers possibilities of becoming a building block for a better space station. It would offer much more protection from solar radiation and space junk. It could also be used to block or deflect an incoming asteroid - saving the planet from serious catastrophe or the life on earth from annihilation. How much would that be worth? ;)
If something bad happenned women and minorities would be disproportionately affected.
Just another mass extinction. No big deal.
What good is a spece station- economically speaking? (BTW that does have an answer, just not one that most people think of)
Nothing new here... The problem, as they will find, is safety. If the rock gets out of control, do you want to be the one to tell the earths population that they’re now a possible target for an extinction level event?
Even if the asteroid is a carbonaceous chondrite, I estimate weight at 500 tons. It is nickel-iron it cold weigh over 1000 tons.
When used to fill reentry vehicles with individual guidance systems and reentering at 7 km/sec. you have the equivalent of several thousand tons of TNT delivered anywhere on Earth and without warning.
The NKs could not bury a facility deep enough to escape such a weapon.
The Chicoms have plenty of good engineers. The physics are simple.
He who controls the High Ground will win. It had better be America!
Oops, typos made in haste. Cold = could. It = if.
Anyway, Earth still has plenty of resources. Mining asteroids could be more economical hundreds or thousands of years from now when resources are more scarce and technology is more reliable.
Oh, yeah. “Oooh, ahhh”, that’s how it always starts. Then later there’s running and screaming.
For comparison, the hole in the AZ desert, Meteor Crater, was made by an object about 10 feet in size I believe...
30 feet is big enough to turn a lot of real estate into glass.
You could kiss a city the size of NYC goodbye.
Here's a fun little site!
On costs however, what is the cost per pound to put something into earth orbit? I'd bet it would be more economical to manufacture some items on-site from basic materials available from asteroids.
Er no... There are lots of iron meteors out there. Here are a few that have impacted the earth:
Hold my pi jiu, and watch this!
“What is it you want, Mary? What do you want? You want the moon? Just say the word and I’ll throw a lasso around it and pull it down. Hey! That’s a pretty good idea. I’ll give you the moon, Mary.”
- George Bailey, “It’s A Wonderful Life”
I’ve heard talk and speculation about that very idea, you have the speed and all you need is the mass and guidance.
Still, if you’re going to weaponize space it would be a lot cheaper to just build a stealth weapons platform with nukes than go through all that trouble, its not like you could do it quietly enough that the world wouldn’t know what you’re up to.
Have you priced gold vs. platinum lately? A couple of days ago when gold peaked it was only about $25/ounce under platinum. If I had a few ounces of gold laying around I would have traded it for platinum in a heartbeat.
Asteroids are not all simple rocks, as spectrum analysis has revealed. Some have high concentrations of iron.
My guess is that scientists are going after the metallic asteroids and NOT the rocky ones. I mean, duh! Right?
Next up is the economic benefit of a space station, which I will answer in the simplest, most abstract fashion possible:
Historically speaking, few things enrich a country more than exploration (The New World, Manifest Destiny, etc). OK, “war” is up there, too, but exploration is pretty high on the list. There is *a lot* to explore out there if we can do it in an economically viable fashion.
(I’m not even going to go into the scientific advancements that can enrich a country from a healthy space program.)
Metaluna needs these resources!
Kinetic energy penetrators don’t create radioactive fallout. Nukes don’t penetrate underground as well or as far as KE either.
With KE you can dial up what you need for TNT equivalent by using the right size projectile.
Nukes require regular maintenance or they fizzle.
Dropping rocks on their heads is way cheaper in the long run.
Or by varying the speed.
Agreed not all asteroids are simple rocks, but consider the earth and the asteroids formed form the same solar nebula, and look at the fraction of the earth that is something other than rocks. BUT let's say that 10% are nickel iron. Something - robot probe? - has to go to each and tell which class it falls into. So then you have to get the right ones into orbit, and then what do you do with a mass of nickel iron? You can make structural shapes out of it IF you have the right processing machinery. Any idea how much a plant to convert a lump of iron into structural material weighs? - A LOT!
There is *a lot* to explore out there if we can do it in an economically viable fashion
The key to your statement that keeps it from being hogwash is the phrase "economically viable fashion". Just how this can be done is a mystery that has eluded everyone on the earth so far. You are correct in that it is economics that drives exploration, but at the "astroomical" cost of returning space stuff to earth there literallly isn't any substance that makes it even close to break even. A giant boulder of pure platinum sitting on the moon would be too expensive to exploit (consider how much it cost to get the moon rocks.)
And as far as technological advances from the space program, These are few purchased at great lost opportunity cost. Private industry innovates ceaselessly (look at Apple) by diverting funds that would be spent in research on things that people actually want to space exploration,you DECREASE innovation in the private sector - trading it for giant engines and fuel tanks that shed chunks. (And alligator habitat)
The space program is just another form of corporate welfare.
Er no yourself. more meteorites are mostly iron because the carbonaceous chontrites (rocks) don't survive the journey through the atmosphere very well.
Being generous here say 10% of all asteroids are solid nickel iron. A. nickel and iron aren't all that valuable and B. What do you do with them once you get them into orbit assuming that they don't come crashing down and flatten the odd city?
You can make structural steel out of them. ANy idea how much mass a steel fabricating plant plant represents?
Wow - a robot probe? Really?
Apparently you’ve never heard of Spectrum Analysis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spectrum_analysis) and - given that it is pretty basic stuff - *maybe* you shouldn’t be commenting on scientific matters...?
Robert Heinlein covered this decades ago in "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress".
You wouldn't need the crucibles or any large handling equipment as a benefit of the weightless environment. You need a means of induction or solar heating, mixing and metal forming equipment - all relatively minor in size and weight.
Also, by processing in space and just returning the end product, we could avoid quite a bit of pollution.
If the metal on asteroids is mined and shipped off somewhere, the mass decreases. would not the decrease make it lose altitude and then impact earth?
I am one of Mr. Heinlein’s misguided children.
Actually sat by him at the L-5 Society Banquet one time.
I guess you'd better educate the NASA folks who sent the rovers to mars. Better tell them about Spectrum Analysis and save us the money and them the effort of sampling the planet babyboy.
And you know this from reading what science fiction author? Lack of weight doesn't mean lack of mass.
Wiki has Meteor Crater being caused by an object 50 yards in diameter, but that’s just wiki. The crater is about 4000 feet in diameter.
I know this because of many years in heavy industry, a stint in manufacturing and aviation and the capacity for abstract thought.
The beams, angles, bars, and plates being made from nickel steel, an outstanding material, would be very thin (as thin as .050" or so in some cases). Since the smelter is operating in a vacuum, oxidation isn't a problem and the molten metal can be rolled from a semi-liquid state into thin sheets. Maybe even extrusion would be possible.
For beams, angles and etc, equipment based on off the self cutters, shears and formers will do the job. Many only weigh a few tons and some even less than a ton and these are made of steel. Have you ever heard of "Seamless Gutters"? The forming principle is the same.
Why not lighten up on vitriolic rhetoric FRiend? We're just trying to have a friendly discussion here.
You lucky bastard. He's one of the few people I'd like to have been able to have a long conversation with. He was an amazing writer. My workstation at the office is called "tanstaafl". :-)