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25 votes

Can we expect to find pure iron or only nickel-iron alloys in asteroids?

Finding macroscopic (i.e., big enough to actually use) pure-iron meteoroids appears to be extremely low-probability. Certainly the bulk composition of the metals in Earth (good references here, here, ...
Tom Spilker's user avatar
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23 votes
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Is there any evidence from previous missions to asteroids that said asteroids have minable minerals?

There have been no sample return missions from M-type (metallic) asteroids. Their composition has been estimated from spectroscopic data and radar albedo. The IR spectra of these asteroids was matched ...
Woody's user avatar
  • 22.1k
17 votes
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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-...
Loren Pechtel's user avatar
16 votes
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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 ...
Russell Borogove's user avatar
15 votes
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How to maintain balance and center of gravity when pushing a 100-ton piece of asteroid?

Two observations: Any reasonable way of nudging a NEO towards Earth requires doing a burn months or even years in advance. Compared to the burn time (here 1min), that means we have a lot of time to ...
SE - stop firing the good guys's user avatar
14 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 ...
Fred's user avatar
  • 13.1k
13 votes

Is there an elegant method to stop an asteroid's spin?

I found at least 1 paper proposing enclosing the asteroid in a bag filled with gas. https://www.researchgate.net/publication/273913280_SHEPHERD_A_Concept_for_Gentle_Asteroid_Retrieval_with_a_Gas-...
lijat's user avatar
  • 1,798
13 votes

Is there an elegant method to stop an asteroid's spin?

Look at how satellites are commonly de-spinned, and apply it on a larger scale. A commonly done method is the Yo-yo de-spin where you have long ropes with weights, and extending them slowy from the ...
Ferrybig's user avatar
  • 231
13 votes

Is there any evidence from previous missions to asteroids that said asteroids have minable minerals?

Iron? Maybe, but... The first material being considered for mining (you may be surprised to find out) is water. The processes for mining water are generally well known and benign (ice has a very low ...
Wyck's user avatar
  • 1,583
12 votes
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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. ...
Loren Pechtel's user avatar
12 votes

Most attractive resource on the Moon

First off almost all resource extraction in space is really only remotely close to cost effective if the resources themselves are used in space. The general number thrown around is ~$10,000 per ...
Josh King's user avatar
  • 2,429
12 votes
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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 ...
Fred's user avatar
  • 13.1k
12 votes
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Using Dragon and Polaris Dawn to dock with near Earth asteroids

You might be over-estimating the significance of these new EVA suits. They are designed to provide brief protection to exposure to full vacuum. The advance on the previous SpaceX intra-vehicular suits ...
Michael MacAskill's user avatar
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 ...
choeger's user avatar
  • 2,443
11 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 ...
Fred's user avatar
  • 13.1k
11 votes
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How can we source potassium fluoride outside of Earth?

Most fluorine compounds are ultimately produced from fluorite mineral deposits, which in turn were produced hydrothermally, by hot water percolating through igneous rock. Particularly "felsic&...
Christopher James Huff's user avatar
11 votes

A Philae Lander (like) anchoring harpoons on M-Type (metallic) asteroid. Can a nail gun and the effect of Cold Welding be a working solution?

Taking the point of homogeneity, internal structure and our knowledge of so called M-type asteroids further. Given how data has been collected for some of the larger M-type asteroids there is still ...
Fred's user avatar
  • 13.1k
10 votes
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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 ...
Oscar Lanzi's user avatar
  • 8,525
10 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 ...
Christopher James Huff's user avatar
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 ...
marked-down's user avatar
  • 8,961
9 votes

How can we source potassium fluoride outside of Earth?

The formation of carbonates requires liquid water. Potassium fluoride can be formed from potassium carbonate. The Moon is yet to indicate it ever had liquid water, but Mars has had liquid water and ...
Fred's user avatar
  • 13.1k
9 votes

A Philae Lander (like) anchoring harpoons on M-Type (metallic) asteroid. Can a nail gun and the effect of Cold Welding be a working solution?

Answer: No, a nail gun can't cold weld to an asteroid. Grappling anything in space is problematic. Partially because almost everything has angular momentum, partially because any contact with the ...
Woody's user avatar
  • 22.1k
8 votes
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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 ...
jgalak's user avatar
  • 766
8 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 ...
uhoh's user avatar
  • 149k
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 ...
Uwe's user avatar
  • 49k
8 votes
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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 ...
Das_Geek's user avatar
  • 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 ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
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, ...
Andy Jones's user avatar
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 ...
m.fuss's user avatar
  • 1,249
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 ...
Rex Ridenoure's user avatar

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