Hot answers tagged

41 votes
Accepted

Legality of asteroid mining

The United States (along with Russia, China, Japan, India, and most other space-faring nations) did not sign (or in some cases, ratify) the Moon Treaty, and so companies that are registered in any of ...
  • 1,057
20 votes
Accepted

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

With all the hype in the news this was surprisingly hard to research for specifically 2011 UW158. I never did find a source for the claim on the value, though the Slooh Community Observatory put the ...
  • 7,116
16 votes
Accepted

Are people actually serious about mining the Moon?

the Moon is actually pretty damn small The Moon is actually pretty damn enormous. The mass of the Moon is about $7.34 \times 10^{22}$ kilograms. As a point of comparison, all the copper ever mined on ...
16 votes

Would a sufficiently deep cavern on Mars provide habitable temperature and atmospheric pressure? Was Dick Tracy wrong?

Looks like it's not possible: To get Earth-normal pressure we need 55km https://astronomy.stackexchange.com/questions/14871/at-what-depth-on-mars-would-the-atmosphere-have-equal-pressure-of-that-on-...
13 votes
Accepted

What about gathering water ice from Saturn's rings?

For a Hohmann transfer to Saturn, I get 15.7 km/s for both burns. The transfer time is also a simple formula. I obtain roughly 6 years. Compare to the lunar ice. It is roughly 2.8 km/s to get to, and ...
  • 16.1k
13 votes

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

On Earth, before a mineral or petroleum resource is mined/extracted, the deposit is delineated and evaluated. Briefly, the process involves sending a some geologists and some drill rigs and their ...
  • 11.1k
12 votes
Accepted

If the Moon were solid gold, how far away would it have to be to not be economical to mine it?

Given your constraints I can't see it being worthwhile, period, even if it were our own moon. Lets throw some numbers at it: Current cost to deliver a kilogram of payload to the moon: \$1.2 million. ...
12 votes
Accepted

Would gold mining on Mars be truly profitable?

As others have stated in their answers, there is no evidence, so far, that there is gold on Mars. We can't say there is or there isn't gold on Mars, we just haven't found any yet. We also don't know ...
  • 11.1k
11 votes

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

Sorry to spoil everyone’s excitement, but one claim, credited to Mining.com, that the kilometer-wide asteroid might contain “up to 90 million metric tons of platinum and other precious metals” is ...
11 votes

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

Two big ifs here. IF we achieved viable commercial fusion power (other than the sun) and IF Helium-3 was an indispensable part of this process. But for the sake of argument, let's say Helium-3 is the ...
  • 15.2k
11 votes

Mining of Uranus or Neptune

That sounds like a terrible idea. The article says that: Lastly, Both planets contain high concentrations of methane. Like graphite, it too can actually transform into various forms of complex ...
  • 2,403
10 votes
Accepted

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

NASA [1] indicates that helium-3 can be assessed indirectly by measuring the presence of titanium dioxide and soil characteristics ("maturity"), the correlation having been derived from the study of ...
  • 7,870
10 votes

Sub Lunar Mining

From the title of the question I assume you are asking about underground mining on the Moon. In terms of underground mining on the Moon we practically know nothing. There were very few holes drilled ...
  • 11.1k
9 votes

Was SpaceX's venture into the asteroid belt a "convenient accident" on purpose?

It is highly likely it was known that the upper stage would could be overshot into the asteroid belt, but it may be within the upper-bounds of expectations. The reason for this is that Elon commented ...
  • 8,715
9 votes

Will mining water on Bennu for travelling to Mars not be more economical than mining it at the lunar south pole?

The only reason near-Earth asteroids still have water is that it's bound up in hydrated minerals where it's become part of the crystal structure of those minerals. Freeing it from those minerals ...
8 votes
Accepted

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

Shallow gravity wells with a healthy angular velocity are much more amenable to space elevators. The elevators can be be much shorter. The stress is much less so the tether could be an ordinary ...
  • 15.2k
8 votes
Accepted

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

The Moon would be a much better place most likely. As you said, 220 pounds of Helium-3 in a mass of many many tons of rock, makes it so that even a few tons of equipment to be dropped on the Moon ...
  • 119k
8 votes
Accepted

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

There is an interesting podcast that I listen to - We Martians. Last Nov they had an episode that touches heavily on this. The episode is here: http://www.wemartians.com/home/015 and it goes into ...
  • 756
8 votes

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

Lunar regolith may contain not only the lightest noble gas helium, but also hydrogen and other noble gases like neon, argon, krypton and xenon. The concentration of helium is much higher than that of ...
  • 47.7k
8 votes
Accepted

Resources on 129 Antigone

tl;dr: There's a fair bit of wiggle room in density estimates, macroporosity is a thing to consider, you could still feasibly find a lot of material on this rock I first want to clarify that asteroids ...
  • 347
8 votes

What would be the required equipment for an astronaut to dig to the centre of Bennu?

The most obvious type of equipment required will be some form of restraint system. While, for some reason, studies of hand-shoveling a tunnel to the center of an asteroid are not appearing in my ...
7 votes

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

There are several issues at play here. Are the raw materials needed to be found on the moon? Can the raw materials be realistically harvested on the moon? Can the raw materials be processed into a ...
  • 6,563
7 votes

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

Short answer: Maybe, if you allow for an engine like used in the series. Long answer: The spaceships in The Expanse do not use Hohmann transfers. Instead they just start to accelerate continuously ...
  • 1,239
7 votes

Mining a near-Earth passing asteroid with profit?

That's a one trillion dollars question! Proximity of near-Earth flybys of asteroids is largely irrelevant when it comes to feasibility of matching their orbit and rendezvousing with them, what is more ...
  • 75.7k
7 votes

How deep could a lunar mine go?

I came here with the same question. While rock pressure is one issue, I think the limiting factor is actually heat. The most recent paper I could find on Lunar temperature gradients is Nimmo 2012, ...
7 votes
Accepted

Is there a method for finding the chemical composition of asteroids?

Reflection spectroscopy in visible and IR wavelengths (using sunlight reflected from asteroids and collected by ground- and space-based instruments) allows for chemical and mineralogical ...
7 votes

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

Interesting question! A quick check of Wikipedia's Helium-3 introduction says: The abundance of helium-3 is thought to be greater on the Moon than on Earth, having been embedded in the upper layer ...
  • 148k
7 votes

Are people actually serious about mining the Moon?

Motivation The moon is rich in a few important natural resources, namely:1 2 Stuff Context Amount Utility Challenges water data from orbiters indicate that the poles – particularly the South Pole – ...
6 votes
Accepted

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

Asteroidal water as a prerequisite to precious metals Something to keep in mind is the effect your delta V budget has on your propellent to dry mass fraction. Larger Delta V budgets mean less dry ...
  • 15.2k
6 votes
Accepted

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

Asteroids fall into one of four categories: C-type, consisting mostly of carbon S-type, consisting mostly of silicate minerals but they can also contain metals M-type, these are metallic, mostly ...
  • 11.1k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible