Questions tagged [mining]

Questions about the extraction of materials from other planets or asteroids.

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59
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3answers
6k views

What resources could be gained from asteroid mining that would be worth the effort?

Obviously asteroids are abundant in many of the raw materials we use today, but considering the (presumably) large expense involved in mining from asteroids it may not be worthwhile to mine some ...
43
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2answers
4k views

Legality of asteroid mining

Exploiting the moon's resources is covered by "The Moon Treaty". Is there something similar or in the works for regulating mining asteroids and other non-lunar bodies?
20
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1answer
641 views

Mining in microgravity: are there sound studies?

I was wondering whether there are any sound studies on mining in microgravity. For example, smelting iron (out of ore) in weightlessness has been described and (in theory) solved. Also, there are ...
18
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5answers
6k views

How is it known that asteroid 2011 UW158 has so much platinum?

Today an asteroid, 2011 UW158, is passing within 2.4 million km of Earth. There are a lot of reports of this asteroid containing $5.4 trillion of platinum in its core. People seem to want to mine it, ...
18
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5answers
3k views

Feasibility of colonising Ceres?

Ceres is a dwarf planet in the midst of the Asteroid Belt between Mars and Jupiter - its location in the Asteroid Belt makes it a good base to mine the riches believed to exist in the asteroids. ...
17
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2answers
3k views

How feasible is it to use aluminum and liquid oxygen as future propellant sourced from the moon?

I was looking into whether there would be any way to source propellants from the moon itself in support of a future base and space stations in cis-lunar space. I found two documents exploring how ...
15
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2answers
2k views

Which precious metals have been detected via samples taken from Earth's moon or Mars?

Have any of the rock samples (or meteors from Earth's moon or from Mars) provided a measurable amount of gold, silver, platinum or any other precious metals?
14
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4answers
4k views

How feasible is it to harvest isotopes of Helium or Hydrogen from the gas giants?

The gas giants in our solar system have abundant quantities of Helium and Hydrogen. Is it possible to harvest these resources there? Does NASA have any plans to build some permanent base in space for ...
14
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4answers
3k views

What about gathering water ice from Saturn's rings?

Saturn's rings are almost pure water ice in nice manageable chunks from specks to boulders a few meters across. Assuming there is something truly useful to do with it - once again talking about ...
13
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4answers
717 views

What are the actual legal prerequisites for extracting natural resources from asteroids by private entities?

The Moon Treaty states that no extraterrestrial property can be owned by any organization or person, with the exception of international and governmental organization. So, taking the current state of ...
13
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3answers
722 views

Could lunar mining be used to service Low Earth Orbit?

What would be the major hurdles of setting up an autonomous mining operation on the Moon to shoot lunar rock to something like the ISS? I would think it would be a much easier way to get radiation ...
12
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1answer
7k views

How much iron is on the surface of Mars?

It's (relatively) common knowledge that Mars is known as the "Red Planet" because of an abundance of iron oxide, AKA rust, on its surface. At first glance, that looks like "iron, iron, everywhere." ...
11
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5answers
1k views

Would a 'space elevator'/sling on a rotating asteroid work?

It is possible to find numerous studies of space elevators, for Earth, Luna, Mars and even Phobos. But would a 'space elevator' work on an asteroid? I use scare quotes because typically the point of a ...
11
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1answer
1k views

Practical Lunar He-3 mining approach?

There is a lot of popular talk that There may be huge deposits of Helium-3 on the Moon, and It could be used for very efficient fusion reactors. Unfortunately in the bulk of popular talk actual ...
11
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2answers
2k views

How to get processed asteroid metals back to Earth in a safe manner

How would you get precious metals (like platinum, lithium, uranium, etc) from an asteroid safely back to Earth? First, assume we don't need the metals in space for in-space manufacturing. Second, ...
11
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3answers
350 views

What is the range of strength for asteroidal materials?

Observed rotation rates of small asteroids point to a limit on the material strength of these bodies. This limit is not very high But that's only part of the picture, because an upper limit on ...
10
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0answers
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Terraforming Venus with the Bosch reaction, using hydrogen from Jupiter [closed]

OK, so chemistry and physics are not my strong suit, so this idea is just cobbled together from stuff I've heard can be done. But I'd be curious if it is at all plausible, and what the most likely ...
9
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3answers
2k views

Mining and the transportation of resources

With the recent bootstrapping of so many space centric companies, it's starting to look like our economy will extend beyond the bounds of Earth sooner rather than later. Assuming that mining ...
9
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1answer
258 views

Would gold in space tend to collect in pockets like it does on Earth?

I was reading Does gold come from outer space?(BBC News). If the majority of gold on Earths surface does come from space would it tend to be equally distributed on comets and asteroids, or would tend ...
8
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3answers
528 views

Can one put a large nickel-iron asteroid into an elliptical solar orbit that results in a soft(ish) earth landing?

My daughter and I are debating whether it is technically feasible to bring a nickel iron asteroid to the surface or the earth non-destructively. I felt it was impossible. Her thought was that with a ...
8
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3answers
1k views

Is space mining and development as shown in the television show “The Expanse” realistic?

In the television show "The Expanse", we see the Solar System having been partially colonized and developed during the 23rd century. The spacecraft in the show appear to depend on conventional ...
8
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3answers
465 views

Could a comet-trailing “scoop” be practical for mining?

It seems that most mining proposals involve landing on the body (blasting pieces of asteroids up from the surface for measurement has been proposed), would it be practical to exploit the volatile ...
8
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1answer
136 views

How could the presence of 3He be detected on the lunar surface?

I have been investigating this isotope of helium for a while, which is extremely abundant on the moon (and in general in the entire solar system except on planets with atmosphere). It is believed that ...
8
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1answer
989 views

How much do we know about minerals and raw materials that are in our solar system?

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,...
6
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3answers
1k views

Mining a near-Earth passing asteroid with profit?

The answer by PearsonArtPhoto in this question got me thinking, particularly this line: Asteroids would be cheaper to go to than the Moon I suppose the subject here are asteroids that pass in the ...
6
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1answer
332 views

Mining Helium-3 on the moon and sending it to Earth?

It would be best to mine and process material on the moon to obtain helium-3, but my question is, what if we did an unmanned mission? A small robot 1 meter long, powered by solar energy, that takes ...
6
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1answer
130 views

Where is the “almost certain” water in these spectra from Chandrayaan 1's Moon Mineralogy Mapper?

The New York Times article Ice on the Surface of the Moon? Almost Certainly, New Research Shows talks about the recent paper published in PNAS Direct evidence of surface exposed water ice in the lunar ...
6
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1answer
181 views

Why are low-albedo asteroids thought to be more water-rich?

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-...
6
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1answer
488 views

What Platinum minerals are expected to be found in Asteroids?

High quantities and values have been claimed for the Platinum and other high value metals in Asteroids - prompting (or perhaps in order to prompt) interest in mining them. Is this high value metal ...
5
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3answers
582 views

Would capture of a uranium-rich asteroid open new possibilities?

It seems that energy production in space is a limiting factor. We can use photovoltaics, but they're of minimal value past Mars, and many interesting places (like the moon) have very long nights. The ...
5
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6answers
831 views

What's the scientific evidence of water for return trip methalox on Mars?

EDIT: I am not asking if you think finding water is necessary for a return flight. I'm asking for the scientific evidence that there is mineable water on Mars that could be used for this purpose. ...
5
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3answers
243 views

What is the closest asteroid to Earth worth mining?

I found this list, but it doesn't say how close it is to the ground https://echo.jpl.nasa.gov/~lance/delta_v/delta_v.rendezvous.html
5
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1answer
128 views

Resources on 129 Antigone

I am one of the cast members of an ongoing science-fiction podcast set in an asteroid settlement on 129 Antigone. The settlement is an O’Neill cylinder built from materials harvested from the asteroid,...
5
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1answer
201 views

When the moon rock heats up to 600°C, does only Helium comes out?

When lunar rock is heated to 600 °C to extract Helium-3, are gases expelled other than helium? Inductance process would be used in heating the rock.
5
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1answer
229 views

What lunar legalities are currently in place?

I'm curious what treaties, if any, are in place as far as restricting military, engineering, or scientific applications on the lunar surface. e.g. Assuming someone definitively discovers there's ...
5
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1answer
247 views

What kinds of instruments do you need to detect whether liquid water/ice is on a planet?

Somewhat of a two-part question. Firstly I'm interested to know if it is expected that a planet/asteroid has water/ice on it, what kinds of scientific instruments you need to identify the presence and ...
5
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1answer
629 views

How much meteorite material hits the moon and could it be useful?

Does the material that hits the moon all vaporize and disperse so much it doesn't lead to enriched deposit areas, or could it sometimes be useful? I'm thinking in particular of a permanent moon base, ...
5
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1answer
194 views

On what calculations is Robert Zubrin's assertion that Mars could be warmed by 10 ⁰ C in 50 years with fluorocarbon gases based?

In this answer to the question "What would the full hypothetical Mars terraforming roadmap look like ?" there's a link to the article "Zubrin on Terraforming Mars" in Universe ...
5
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1answer
92 views

When were the presence of specific elements on asteroids first identified?

Is there an approximation on when scientists first found out about certain elements on asteroids? What about gold in particular?
4
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5answers
1k views

Mining of Uranus or Neptune

Some studies show that there are big 'seas' of diamonds on Uranus and Neptune, there may be loads of it. I was thinking, wouldn't it be a great business opportunity to go to Uranus or Neptune (maybe ...
4
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3answers
295 views

Will mining water on Bennu not be more economical than collecting it at the lunar south pole?

Bennu is a carbonaceous asteroid that is currently accompanied by the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft that will take samples from it to return to Earth. Its diameter is 490 m. and it is slightly denser than ...
4
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3answers
335 views

Over time, would I exert less effort mining a large asteroid or collecting small asteroids, assuming both have similar compositions?

Suppose there are two asteroids, one very large (larger than a football field) and one very small (roughly the size of a refrigerator). Assume they have similar compositions and are at equal ...
4
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4answers
684 views

Is Mars iron too oxidized to pick up with a magnet?

How much iron would a magnet pick up on the surface of Mars? Would it be rich in iron particles like going to a playground on earth? Would it be clean enough to take to a refinery and melt down, or ...
4
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1answer
140 views

How long does it take to refresh helium-3 on the moon?

I was reading a science-fiction novel, Limit, by Frank Shätzing. It depicts a near-future with useful helium-3 fusion, and the Americans and Chinese are bumping elbows mining helium-3 on the moon, ...
4
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1answer
209 views

Asteroid Mining on Ceres

I am an Architecture and Urbanism student. Currently I am working on designing a space habitat for mineral mining on Ceres. I have been reading about space mining techniques mostly on near Earth ...
4
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2answers
348 views

Are there any techniques of heat shielding an irregularly shaped object?

NASA is planning to bring an asteroid into a lunar orbit. As I understand, it's a tremendous task, even when using high specific impulse ion drives. It seems nearly impossible to safely land one on ...
4
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1answer
186 views

How can we mine Near Earth Objects?

After skimming this Worldbuilding SE answer, I wonder if any companies or space agencies have plans in place to mine Near Earth Objects(NEOs) in the future.
4
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2answers
173 views

How is it proposed to extract oxygen from lunar regolith?

Futurism's news item NASA Pumps Funding into Startup That Says It Can Harvest Oxygen From Lunar Regolith says: NASA just awarded substantial funding to Pioneer Astronautics, a company that claims it ...
4
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0answers
67 views

SpaceX Dragon Maximum Return Payload

For one of my university courses, we were asked to assess the viability of an asteroid exploitation mission. Assuming that we can somehow mine and refine the material (platinum in this case), we still ...
3
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4answers
760 views

Would it be more viable to process moon rocks into Helium-3 on the Moon than doing so on Earth?

Helium-3 is a substance that is very useful for nuclear fusion, which can generate a lot of power. Unfortunately we don't have a lot of it on Earth, but on the Moon it can be processed from basic moon ...