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In this talk, J. L. Galache mentions that asteroid miners are looking for NEAs with:

  • low delta-v (so the asteroid is easy to get to/from from Earth)
  • low synodic period (for frequent launch/return-windows)
  • low albedo, i.e. dark

I don't understand the last point. The low albedo is apparently thought to be correlated with a carbonaceous and water-rich composition. Why? Are there some good resources about this stuff online?

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  • $\begingroup$ The goals for low delta V and low synodic period at at odds with one another. For low delta V you want an asteroid whose orbit semi-major axis is close to 1 A.U. But as semi-major axis goes to 1 A.U. synodic period goes to infinity. Low delta V asteroids have rare launch windows. $\endgroup$ – HopDavid Jan 21 '18 at 15:24
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It's a Bayesian thing. If one spots a low albedo asteroid, the odds are good that it's a carbonaceous chondrite asteroid that formed beyond the frost line and hence contains minerals that have become hydrated.

Most of the observed low albedo asteroids are carbonaceous chondrites, and most of carbonaceous chondrite meteorites that have fallen to Earth have hydrated minerals. However, some of the observed low albedo asteroids are not carbonaceous chondrites, some of which are pretty much anhydrous, and some of the carbonaceous chondrite meteorites that have fallen to Earth are pretty much anhydrous.

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