36

There are multiple problems with this idea. The first and most obvious problem is that the sealed container which has a perfect vacuum inside (seller claims so at least) is not of much use until you can put something inside (experiment, material, ...). And when you do that, you unavoidably get some gas inside with it, which ruins your perfect vacuum. You ...


20

Yes, oxides of typical engineering metals, such as iron, aluminum, magnesium, titanium and silicon (as a semiconductor and important alloy material) are abundant on the lunar surface. It is unknown whether there are large deposits of heavier elements like lead, tungsten, chromium or uranium. Although the moon is mainly composed of light elements, radioactive ...


20

Could they be harvested? Sure. Could they be harvested in an economically profitable way? Probably not, for all the reasons you listed. There's a lot of unknowns to this question — while the chemistry they mention certainly makes sense, there's lots of stuff about the atmosphere we don't know. A harvesting ship would need to find exactly what ...


19

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 claim at "\$300 billion to as much as \$5.4 trillion dollars worth of precious metals and minerals". The answer basically seems to come down to: we've analyzed ...


17

According to WP, at the upper end of Earth thermosphere -- that's LEO, somewhere above the orbit of ISS -- the pressure goes to around $1 \times 10^{-7}$ Pa. This level of vacuum is regularly achieved on Earth, with MBE chambers going down to around $1 \times 10^{-10}$ Pa. To get a better vacuum you'd need to get quite a bit farther from Earth. In any ...


16

This answer is outdated. The Dawn flyby in February 2015 added a lot of information which was not known at the writing of this answer. We don't actually know much about Ceres. All we know about it is from earth-based or earth-orbit-based observation. Until now it wasn't visited by a probe, but the Dawn spacecraft will do so in February 2015. This will ...


16

The key material to produce to make plastics is the production of ethylene, which is $C_2H_4$. According to The Case for Mars, this can be produced by the reaction $2CO+4H_2 \rightarrow C_2H_4+2H_2O$, with the presence of an Iron catalyst.. And the carbon monoxide comes from $6H_2+2CO_2 \rightarrow 2H_2O+2CO+4H_2$. Thus, the key to making plastics on Mars is ...


14

Existence of Essential Minerals on Mars Formation Mineral deposits are made through Volcanology. Under the crust of Mars, there is a massive collection of magma, consisting of an amalgamation of elements. Over thousands of years, the heaviest of these elements sink to the bottom. These include copper, chromium, nickel and iron, which get concentrated at ...


14

There are two schools of thought discussed in Asteroid Mining: International and Legal Aspects by Frans G. von der Dunk: Perspective 1: The US and countries like Luxembourg believe that any resources mined on the moon are global commons which allows licensed entities to make a commercial business out of mining the moon. (see page 96 in the document and ...


13

Yes - for silicone plastics. Mars does have plenty of silica (aka sand) so there are the basic materials to synthesize silicone - which can be used in place of most organic plastics. (Often performing better than conventional carbon-based plastics.) Methane, chlorine, water, and carbon-dioxide all exist on the surface as well. It should be stated that ...


12

This is a rather broad question, so I'll mostly try to point you in the right direction than directly answer it; First, Venusian atmosphere is highly dynamic and diverse environment both in constitution as well as ambient pressure, temperature and even weather. It forms many distinct layers at different altitudes, and its troposphere extends to about 100 km (...


10

Paul Spudis notes the moon has lots of aggregate. Lunar regolith is shattered bedrock with granules of all different sizes. Spudis suggests "Instead of water-set lime-based cement, we can use glass to cement particulate material together. Regolith can be sintered into bricks and blocks, as well as roads and landing pads, using thermal energy (passive solar,...


10

The MESSENGER mission is giving us a very tantalizing picture of Mercury's resources. No surprise is that much of the surface is basaltic minerals containing about 42% Oxygen on average by weight. Iron is notably diminished at about 1.5% - odd considering the planet's overall density is 5.4 gm/cm3 - while Sulfur is at around 2.3%. Colonizing any planet ...


10

In terms of delta-v budget there could be large savings in transporting required materials from the Moon to LEO (∆V ~ 2.74 km/s) instead of Earth to LEO (∆V ~ 9.3 - 10 km/s) [1], assuming you can reduce excess orbit insertion velocity (~ 3.3 km/s from about 11 km/s reentry speed to 7.7 km/s for ISS) that builds up due to Earth's larger Hill sphere with ...


10

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 wrong and is orders of magnitude too high. Assuming the asteroid to be roughly spherical and 3280 feet (1 kilometer) across and being the more uncommon “nickel-...


10

I think the poster was mistaken about hydrocarbons being on The Moon. We know some planets (like Mars) and moons (like Titan) have them, but not Earth's. The Moon does have water, however. What probably threw him is how we know it has water Water (H2O), and the chemically related hydroxyl group (-OH), can also exist in forms chemically bound as hydrates ...


10

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 Apollo lunar rock samples. The helium-3 is "detected" through remote analysis for these favorable mineral and soil characteristics. Using data on the titanium ...


9

The oblateness of Ceres seems to indicate water. Moreover water geysers were recently detected by Herschel Space telescope. Hopefully we'll learn more when the Dawn spacecraft arrives February of 2015. Planetary chauvinists like to point out mass of the Main Belt is small compared to Earth or Mars. But most of a planet's mass is inaccessible. As we burrow ...


9

I'd advise strong caution as to drawing conclusions as to what there is and isn't on the Moon, as all we know comes from a few trunk-loads of rocks, satellite imagery, and theory, which in planetary science still tends to be spectacularly wrong rather often. But in terms of anything easily accessible, there is very little copper on the Moon. The Lunar ...


8

Well, one large issue is that on Mercury we can't make plastics. Petrochemicals are needed as a raw material, and as far as I can tell, there were no dinosaurs on Mercury. Bioplastics exist, but we would need a large plantation to be able to sustainably make plastics. We already would need large plantations for food and for sustaining the atmosphere, so ...


8

The short answer to the actual question asked: you might do it electrostatically, but it would require huge amounts of power. The extended short answer: the water, though a nearly incredible mass of it, is spread over such a gigantic region that it is far less concentrated than in the air of the Atacama Desert, the driest place on Earth. The doubly ...


7

I can think of three generalized trajectories, actually: “More direct” routes, by which I mean quicker than a plain transfer. More Δv is required, and thus more expensive. Unless you have live cargo or other radiation-sensitive materials, this will be rarely used. Hohmann transfers, which will be the route of only the most highly valued resources. Finally, ...


7

Old topic, but for those just showing up: 1) There are two leading candidates for the "unknown UV absorber" in Venus's atmosphere, and probably the most likely answer is some degree of both. One of these is elemental sulfur. The other? Ferrous chloride. Indeed, one of the Venera probes detected iron during its descent. All evidence points to there ...


7

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, which gives a gradient of 2.5C/km starting from 30C near the surface. As the deepest mine on Earth is apparently limited by a temperature of 66C, it follows that ...


7

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 characterization. See an intro here, with links to other sources of background info: http://www.permanent.com/asteroids-telescope-spectroscopy.html Other in situ ...


6

Assuming that mining companies such as Planetary Resources succeed and other companies force competition, how important will it be for methods of transporting materials to Earth to become cheap? Very important. Consider the claim by Deep Space Industries (DSI) that asteroid 2012 DA14 is worth \$195 billion. (http://www.space.com/19758-asteroid-worth-...


6

High initial costs compared to current demand rate is the basic economic problem. The infrastructure would need more spacecrafts to serve in order for it to become worthwhile. Prolonging the life of GEO satellites might become the crucial stepping stone to make this concept profitable. But they are today not built be refueled. I think that tugging is much ...


6

Perovskites may prevent the need for such complex manufacturing facilities. https://www.nasa.gov/feature/glenn/2019/building-solar-panels-in-space-might-be-as-easy-as-clicking-print Perovskites are made of Calcium, Titanium, and Oxygen, all of which have been found in significant quantities (>1%) on moon rocks (source). This source estimates the Moon's ...


5

There are parts that would be easy, and parts that would be quite difficult. Here is a video that shows you how solar cells are made on Earth. Here's a few things you need: A very high efficiency clean room. Wafer manufacturing capabilities Etching equipment Diffusing equipment Metal inlaying Bottom line is, this is very ...


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