Based on satellite and robots research, is there an overview/inventory of mineral resources that has been discovered till now on the planets, moons, asteroids and comets of our solar system (e.g. list, database, scientific paper/article, book, map etc. of raw/crude materials)?

Mineral resouces - reserves, need and limitations (long-term economic impact):

Current initiatives looking for solutions (long-term economic potential):

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ A complete list of all the planets with potentially accessible resources on their mineral surfaces consists of: Mars! Venus and Mercury are too hot, the rest are bottomless hydrogen gas planets. So it is really about moons, asteroids, comets. Frozen volatiles are very abundant beyond their respective "frost line", for example water ice beyond somewhere inside the asteroid belt, where by the way almost all small objects are. And Earth has 10 times more different minerals than the rest of the solar system because of plate tectonics and our oxygen atmosphere created by life. $\endgroup$
    – LocalFluff
    Commented May 7, 2015 at 8:55
  • $\begingroup$ Review of lunar resources courtesy of @ernestopheles: "Moon: Prospective Energy and Material Resources". $\endgroup$ Commented May 7, 2015 at 14:45
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I've got a table of elemental abundances of different bodies in Excel for the Sun, Earth, Moon, C-Type, S-Type, and M-Type asteroids. If I get time and remember to do so, I'll add that to my answer below. $\endgroup$
    – Jim2B
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ @Jim2B - really great, many thx for your valuable contribution! $\endgroup$
    – eugenio
    Commented May 11, 2015 at 17:41
  • $\begingroup$ I disagree with you (LocalFluff) on Mercury, but agree with everything else. Mercury has asteroid craters that never see the light of the sun and even have ice in them. Such a crater would be a perfectly good place for mining, assuming planetary mining is ever practical, which it might not be. I'm not sure the feasibility of solar panels that close to the sun, but if possible, there would be plenty of available solar energy. $\endgroup$
    – userLTK
    Commented May 13, 2015 at 1:29

1 Answer 1


YES and NO

The Yes part
Many meteors have been traced back to their parent bodies. We have done very detailed analysis of both mineral and elemental composition. By comparing the spectrum of the bodies we have samples of (e.g. Vesta), we can determine what the composition of many other bodies possess.

Based upon that we have a good idea of the total quantities of minerals and elements available for exploitation.

The No part
The problem is, we only have a good idea of the overall composition of these bodies. We do not know what sort of ores might be available for exploiting if we need to do something like harvest rare earth elements.

One problem is that on Earth elements/minerals are concentrated by a mix of processes only available on Earth (volcanic, hydraulic, and biological). Since most bodies do not have these processes, we will likely only find lower grade ores for most elements we wish to exploit.

There are exceptions to this
1. metallic nodules in carbonaceous chondrites & stony asteroids
2. metallic meteors & asteroids

Plus most celestial bodies possess higher surface concentrations of several valuable elements than the Earth's surface does (it seems that when the Earth differentiated, these elements were pulled down into the core).

  1. rare earth elements
  2. platinum group elements

But yeah, I've looked up the concentrations of these bodies and found reasonably accurate numbers.

Type C Asteroid - carbonaceous, 75% of asteroids
Type S Asteroid - stony, 17% of asteroids
Type M Asteroid - metallic, 6-8% of asteroids


Asteroids of this class have spectra very similar to those of carbonaceous chondrite meteorites (types CI and CM). The latter are very close in chemical composition to the Sun and the primitive solar nebula, except for the absence of hydrogen, helium and other volatiles. Hydrated (water-containing) minerals are present

Overall elemental abundances


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