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(BBC)   Research suggests that our solar system's asteroids will not provide enough vespene gas or minerals for that battle-cruiser rush you had planned   (bbc.co.uk) divider line 90
    More: Sad, asteroids, Deep Space Network, space rocks, dsi, robotic spacecraft, solar system, Center for Astrophysics, BBC News website  
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2632 clicks; posted to Geek » on 13 Jan 2014 at 4:07 PM (1 year ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-01-13 02:54:33 PM  
There are almost 2 million asteroids in the asteroid belt. If as the article says only 1% of them are suitable for mining then that's still a shirtload of wealth out there. Best way to mine it would be to send probes to determine the viability of the asteroid for a mining operation, then either send robots out to mine the ore then send the ore to a processing plant in earth orbit or more risky to simply send the asteroid into a near earth orbit and mine it from there.
 
2014-01-13 02:58:29 PM  
So based on his author's interpretation of a list of assumptions then length of my arm he doesn't think it's worth it.

There's still too much we don't know until someone actually does a real survey of potential asteroids and does preliminary development of the tech required.
 
2014-01-13 03:07:13 PM  
Who's worried about that right now? You should be more concerned with the immediate fact that YOU MUST CONSTRUCT ADDITIONAL PYLONS.
 
2014-01-13 03:46:55 PM  

Ghastly: There are almost 2 million asteroids in the asteroid belt. If as the article says only 1% of them are suitable for mining then that's still a shirtload of wealth out there. Best way to mine it would be to send probes to determine the viability of the asteroid for a mining operation, then either send robots out to mine the ore then send the ore to a processing plant in earth orbit or more risky to simply send the asteroid into a near earth orbit and mine it from there.


I think it was just near earth ones, and the highlights of the actual research says the 10 are platinum group metals, and better propulsion will increase the number.

The belt is still a little out of reach.
 
2014-01-13 04:09:47 PM  
I was wondering if this was a ghost submission, but since it doesn't mention 3D printing, I suppose not...
 
2014-01-13 04:13:46 PM  
"he emphasised large uncertainties in the values and called for more thorough surveys of what's out there"

So, in other words, this is wild speculation based on minimal evidence, and a small sampling of a small population of near-Earth rocks.

Good to see hard-hitting, facts-based science reporting from the Beeb.
 
2014-01-13 04:15:40 PM  

meat0918: Ghastly: There are almost 2 million asteroids in the asteroid belt. If as the article says only 1% of them are suitable for mining then that's still a shirtload of wealth out there. Best way to mine it would be to send probes to determine the viability of the asteroid for a mining operation, then either send robots out to mine the ore then send the ore to a processing plant in earth orbit or more risky to simply send the asteroid into a near earth orbit and mine it from there.

I think it was just near earth ones, and the highlights of the actual research says the 10 are platinum group metals, and better propulsion will increase the number.

The belt is still a little out of reach.


Yep. Similar to how estimates of recoverable petroleum have increased over time, as technology and economic conditions have changed.
 
2014-01-13 04:18:16 PM  

Cagey B: Who's worried about that right now? You should be more concerned with the immediate fact that YOU MUST CONSTRUCT ADDITIONAL PYLONS.


Fark of Aldaris, need materials first to build that damned things
 
2014-01-13 04:18:42 PM  
As I understand it, they're not referring to the official 'Asteroid Belt', just near-Earth objects.

The Asteroid Belt is what we should be aiming for.
 
2014-01-13 04:19:57 PM  

Cagey B: Who's worried about that right now? You should be more concerned with the immediate fact that YOU MUST CONSTRUCT ADDITIONAL PYLONS.

ADDITIONAL SUPPLY DEPOTS REQUIRED
 
2014-01-13 04:23:30 PM  
Aren't a lot of asteroids just metal? You wouldn't need to do that much refining. Just separate the nickle from the iron or whatnot.

To me, mining an asteroid isn't the huge challenge. It's getting the material back to Earth (or the Moon or Mars or whatever) economically.
 
2014-01-13 04:24:38 PM  

djZorbof: Cagey B: Who's worried about that right now? You should be more concerned with the immediate fact that YOU MUST CONSTRUCT ADDITIONAL PYLONS.ADDITIONAL SUPPLY DEPOTS REQUIRED


ZUG ZUG
 
2014-01-13 04:25:00 PM  

Cagey B: Who's worried about that right now? You should be more concerned with the immediate fact that YOU MUST CONSTRUCT ADDITIONAL PYLONS.


Screw that, need to build a bunker and a some troops for that zergling rush that you know is coming.

THEN we can counter attack with a full battle cruiser rush.  Or a siege tank rush.
 
2014-01-13 04:32:16 PM  

meat0918: Ghastly: There are almost 2 million asteroids in the asteroid belt. If as the article says only 1% of them are suitable for mining then that's still a shirtload of wealth out there. Best way to mine it would be to send probes to determine the viability of the asteroid for a mining operation, then either send robots out to mine the ore then send the ore to a processing plant in earth orbit or more risky to simply send the asteroid into a near earth orbit and mine it from there.

I think it was just near earth ones, and the highlights of the actual research says the 10 are platinum group metals, and better propulsion will increase the number.

The belt is still a little out of reach.


That is why we need a mars base.
 
2014-01-13 04:33:24 PM  
I see QA's name is actually Paul Rincon and he's a writer for the BBC.

Impressive.
 
2014-01-13 04:37:08 PM  

Saiga410: meat0918: Ghastly: There are almost 2 million asteroids in the asteroid belt. If as the article says only 1% of them are suitable for mining then that's still a shirtload of wealth out there. Best way to mine it would be to send probes to determine the viability of the asteroid for a mining operation, then either send robots out to mine the ore then send the ore to a processing plant in earth orbit or more risky to simply send the asteroid into a near earth orbit and mine it from there.

I think it was just near earth ones, and the highlights of the actual research says the 10 are platinum group metals, and better propulsion will increase the number.

The belt is still a little out of reach.

That is why we need a mars base.


I'll get the Adeptus Mechanicus on it pronto.
 
2014-01-13 04:39:03 PM  
Ghastly: Best way to mine it would be to send probes

24.media.tumblr.com
 
2014-01-13 04:39:06 PM  
What about kethane deposits?
 
2014-01-13 04:41:58 PM  
Saiga410:That is why we need a mars base.

I think Ceres is a better option. It's conveniently located, big enough to have some gravity but not enough to make leaving expensive, and it has water.
 
2014-01-13 04:48:18 PM  

To The Escape Zeppelin!: Saiga410:That is why we need a mars base.

I think Ceres is a better option. It's conveniently located, big enough to have some gravity but not enough to make leaving expensive, and it has water.


In the short term a base on the moon or L4 would provide a relatively fuel efficient staging point to launch mining ships or as a place to refine material harvested from asteroids.
 
2014-01-13 04:53:29 PM  
RTFA: he has multiple order-of-magnitude error bars.

So in other words, nobody knows, but he's hoping for more grant money.
 
2014-01-13 04:53:39 PM  

Ghastly: There are almost 2 million asteroids in the asteroid belt. If as the article says only 1% of them are suitable for mining then that's still a shirtload of wealth out there. Best way to mine it would be to send probes to determine the viability of the asteroid for a mining operation, then either send robots out to mine the ore then send the ore to a processing plant in earth orbit or more risky to simply send the asteroid into a near earth orbit and mine it from there.


Yes, let's chuck huge space rocks at the earth.  What could possibly go wrong?
 
2014-01-13 04:54:14 PM  
Betcha it was disinformation provided by Robert Bigelow. That bastard is trying to tie up all of space.


/out of tinfoil
 
2014-01-13 04:54:48 PM  

unyon: Ghastly: There are almost 2 million asteroids in the asteroid belt. If as the article says only 1% of them are suitable for mining then that's still a shirtload of wealth out there. Best way to mine it would be to send probes to determine the viability of the asteroid for a mining operation, then either send robots out to mine the ore then send the ore to a processing plant in earth orbit or more risky to simply send the asteroid into a near earth orbit and mine it from there.

Yes, let's chuck huge space rocks at the earth.  What could possibly go wrong?


Should be fine as long as you don't fark it up
 
2014-01-13 04:59:32 PM  
I don't really get the perceived value of gold and platinum et al. in asteroid mining.

What's really valuable is the aluminum, iron, titanium, oxygen, carbon, ice etc. *that is already outside Earth's gravity well.*

By the time you've hoisted it up from sea level to orbit a kilogram of water is worth a few dekagrams of gold on the ground. But if you can find some that's already out there, all sorts of things are possible.
 
2014-01-13 05:02:56 PM  
My guess is that the economics of asteroid mining rapidly change once you mine one really big one.

Take Ceres, the planetoid, for example. It's moon sized and would probably make a great base for mining the rest of the asteroid belt. Once you get enough men, machines and resources up there, the cost of asteroid mining would plummet because you wouldn't need to truck anything up the Earth's gravity well once the mining colony became self-sustaining in everything except high-tech and luxury goods.

According to estimates I have seen, these extra-large asteroids contain inconceivable amounts of valuable minerals. The gold alone has a string of zeroes as long as your arm. Rare earth elements like Iridium, palladium, and so forth can only go up in value as technology demands more and more of them. Water from comets and asteroids should suffice for industry, agriculture, aquaculture, air production, etc.

And that's assuming you even need humans. Robots and cybernetic devices could make the personnel requirements minimal or even obsolete. You might be able to mine some asteroids from the ground or Earth orbit. If you are willing to wait, taking it slow vastly reduces the amount of energy to move asteroids around, so a nudge might be as good as a nuclear explosion to placing asteroids somewhere where the cost of mining is reduced.

Everything is in the assumptions. I am sure that some asteroid mining must be feasible and if you use the easy and quick profit bits to build capacity, you can scale up.

One of the things that SF misleads us on is the number of advanced civilizations which would bother to attack Earth for mineral or water or air resources. That gravity well is a pain-in-the-ass. There's so much more cheaply mineable stuff in the Oort Cloud, they Kuyper Belt and the Asteroid Belt, not to mention the gas giant moons, that aliens would probably never have to come any closer than a few billion miles. They might be out there now mining away in the cold and darkness, without being detected by our telescopes.

I suspect they could lock us into our solar system with a Dyson sphere without us knowing it. Especially if they started the project several million years ago when we were hanging from tree branches by our hairy arms, throwing poop at leopards.

Think about that. The universe is old enough that some species could be millions of years ahead of us in evolution and technology. They might not need to drop in let alone invade like they do in the movies. We'd be so primitive that we wouldn't be worth their notice.

From the point of view of old timers, red dwarf stars are more interesting than yellow dwarfs like our Sun. They last longer, a lot longer, a hundred billion years longer. They might be willing to leave toys like our solar system to the babies.
 
2014-01-13 05:08:51 PM  

maxheck: I don't really get the perceived value of gold and platinum et al. in asteroid mining.

What's really valuable is the aluminum, iron, titanium, oxygen, carbon, ice etc. *that is already outside Earth's gravity well.*

By the time you've hoisted it up from sea level to orbit a kilogram of water is worth a few dekagrams of gold on the ground. But if you can find some that's already out there, all sorts of things are possible.


If your plan is to ship material to Earth's surface then valuable metals make sense. But the more industry you have in orbit the more valuable sources of fuel, water and oxygen that you don't have to ship up Earth's gravity well become.
 
2014-01-13 05:13:01 PM  
Voiceofreason01Yes, let's chuck huge space rocks at the earth.  What could possibly go wrong?

Should be fine as long as you don't fark it up


That's true for a great many things.  Actually, it's true for all the things.  But it's the equivalent of saying "it'll be good right up until it all goes bad".
 
2014-01-13 05:15:40 PM  
Vespene gas? My sons and I call it "lesbian gas". Just for the giggles.
 
2014-01-13 05:18:13 PM  

unyon: Voiceofreason01Yes, let's chuck huge space rocks at the earth.  What could possibly go wrong?

Should be fine as long as you don't fark it up

That's true for a great many things.  Actually, it's true for all the things.  But it's the equivalent of saying "it'll be good right up until it all goes bad".


That's not necessarily true. A good many things from the "Hold my beer a minute" or "Darwin Award" categories are things that were flawed ideas from their conception and were never going to work no matter how well executed.
 
2014-01-13 05:20:02 PM  
If they have helium, totally worth it.
 
2014-01-13 05:23:57 PM  
if large scale space mining ever takes off, is there a danger in bringing lots of materials back to earth?  call me crazy, but isn't our planetary orbit a delicate balance of forces?  It seems to me that most of the stuff mined in space should stay in space.
 
2014-01-13 05:26:23 PM  
Voiceofreason01:

maxheck: I don't really get the perceived value of gold and platinum et al. in asteroid mining.

What's really valuable is the aluminum, iron, titanium, oxygen, carbon, ice etc. *that is already outside Earth's gravity well.*

By the time you've hoisted it up from sea level to orbit a kilogram of water is worth a few dekagrams of gold on the ground. But if you can find some that's already out there, all sorts of things are possible.

If your plan is to ship material to Earth's surface then valuable metals make sense. But the more industry you have in orbit the more valuable sources of fuel, water and oxygen that you don't have to ship up Earth's gravity well become.


That's sorta my point. If you were setting up a mine in a distant, hostile land on Earth, the first thing you'd do before digging up a single nugget of gold would be to find the resources to actually do the mining on a real scale.

If you had to ship every pickaxe, every bucket, every stick of firewood, every worker across an ocean every time you're not going to get much mining done. So you bring tools (or send them ahead of your arrival) to build things on site and use whatever's already there. THEN you start on the real work.
 
2014-01-13 05:27:54 PM  

Maul555: if large scale space mining ever takes off, is there a danger in bringing lots of materials back to earth?  call me crazy, but isn't our planetary orbit a delicate balance of forces?  It seems to me that most of the stuff mined in space should stay in space.


I won't call you crazy.  I'll call you ignorant.

The earth already gains tons of mass each day from meteors.
 
2014-01-13 05:28:04 PM  

Maul555: if large scale space mining ever takes off, is there a danger in bringing lots of materials back to earth?  call me crazy, but isn't our planetary orbit a delicate balance of forces?  It seems to me that most of the stuff mined in space should stay in space.


Earth has a mass of 5.97219×1024 kg with more being added everyday through meteor impacts. We would have to bring back A LOT of stuff to make even the tiniest difference.
 
2014-01-13 05:31:05 PM  

Voiceofreason01: Maul555: if large scale space mining ever takes off, is there a danger in bringing lots of materials back to earth?  call me crazy, but isn't our planetary orbit a delicate balance of forces?  It seems to me that most of the stuff mined in space should stay in space.

Earth has a mass of 5.97219×1024 kg with more being added everyday through meteor impacts. We would have to bring back A LOT of stuff to make even the tiniest difference.


I realize that, which is why my question was limited to large scale asteroid mining...   not little things.
 
2014-01-13 05:33:46 PM  

Maul555: Voiceofreason01: Maul555: if large scale space mining ever takes off, is there a danger in bringing lots of materials back to earth?  call me crazy, but isn't our planetary orbit a delicate balance of forces?  It seems to me that most of the stuff mined in space should stay in space.

Earth has a mass of 5.97219×1024 kg with more being added everyday through meteor impacts. We would have to bring back A LOT of stuff to make even the tiniest difference.

I realize that, which is why my question was limited to large scale asteroid mining...   not little things.


So by 'large scale' you mean crashing Ceres onto the planet?  In which case, earth's mass goes up by 0.01%

I think your fears are misplaced.
 
2014-01-13 05:35:17 PM  
Maul555:

if large scale space mining ever takes off, is there a danger in bringing lots of materials back to earth? call me crazy, but isn't our planetary orbit a delicate balance of forces? It seems to me that most of the stuff mined in space should stay in space.

5,972,000,000,000,000,000,000,000kg - approximate mass of Earth
7,036,000,000,000kg - annual coal production worldwide



Sorry for the formatting, but anyway, even if we were dumping asteroid mass on earth as fast as we mine coal, there's a trillionfold difference in the masses.
 
2014-01-13 05:35:23 PM  

FrancoFile: Maul555: Voiceofreason01: Maul555: if large scale space mining ever takes off, is there a danger in bringing lots of materials back to earth?  call me crazy, but isn't our planetary orbit a delicate balance of forces?  It seems to me that most of the stuff mined in space should stay in space.

Earth has a mass of 5.97219×1024 kg with more being added everyday through meteor impacts. We would have to bring back A LOT of stuff to make even the tiniest difference.

I realize that, which is why my question was limited to large scale asteroid mining...   not little things.

So by 'large scale' you mean crashing Ceres onto the planet?  In which case, earth's mass goes up by 0.01%

I think your fears are misplaced.


fair enough.  Thanks for the info.  But no thanks for calling an inquiring mind ignorant.
 
2014-01-13 05:36:16 PM  

Voiceofreason01: unyon: Voiceofreason01Yes, let's chuck huge space rocks at the earth.  What could possibly go wrong?

Should be fine as long as you don't fark it up

That's true for a great many things.  Actually, it's true for all the things.  But it's the equivalent of saying "it'll be good right up until it all goes bad".

That's not necessarily true. A good many things from the "Hold my beer a minute" or "Darwin Award" categories are things that were flawed ideas from their conception and were never going to work no matter how well executed.


The problem is that 'flawed idea from their conception' is often a retroactive judgement.
 
2014-01-13 05:37:05 PM  
At a certain point, wouldn't the whole pricing system collapse in on itself?

When the really rare stuff starts, quite literally, raining from the skies and we find our closed system now expanded to fill the solar system, what happens to the markets, and by connection, society?
 
2014-01-13 05:37:32 PM  

Maul555: Voiceofreason01: Maul555: if large scale space mining ever takes off, is there a danger in bringing lots of materials back to earth?  call me crazy, but isn't our planetary orbit a delicate balance of forces?  It seems to me that most of the stuff mined in space should stay in space.

Earth has a mass of 5.97219×1024 kg with more being added everyday through meteor impacts. We would have to bring back A LOT of stuff to make even the tiniest difference.

I realize that, which is why my question was limited to large scale asteroid mining...   not little things.


The Gasberg mine which is the largest gold mine in the world only produced 58,474 kg of gold in 2006.
 
2014-01-13 05:38:42 PM  

Maul555: FrancoFile: Maul555: Voiceofreason01: Maul555: if large scale space mining ever takes off, is there a danger in bringing lots of materials back to earth?  call me crazy, but isn't our planetary orbit a delicate balance of forces?  It seems to me that most of the stuff mined in space should stay in space.

Earth has a mass of 5.97219×1024 kg with more being added everyday through meteor impacts. We would have to bring back A LOT of stuff to make even the tiniest difference.

I realize that, which is why my question was limited to large scale asteroid mining...   not little things.

So by 'large scale' you mean crashing Ceres onto the planet?  In which case, earth's mass goes up by 0.01%

I think your fears are misplaced.

fair enough.  Thanks for the info.  But no thanks for calling an inquiring mind ignorant.


We're doing that behind your back, dont worry...

/smiley captioned for the humor impaired.
 
2014-01-13 05:38:51 PM  

Infernalist: At a certain point, wouldn't the whole pricing system collapse in on itself?

When the really rare stuff starts, quite literally, raining from the skies and we find our closed system now expanded to fill the solar system, what happens to the markets, and by connection, society?



No. There is still a cost involved, in locating, extracting, refining, and moving the materials. It would increase the worlds wealth, but it would not collapse it.
 
2014-01-13 05:39:27 PM  

Maul555: FrancoFile: Maul555: Voiceofreason01: Maul555: if large scale space mining ever takes off, is there a danger in bringing lots of materials back to earth?  call me crazy, but isn't our planetary orbit a delicate balance of forces?  It seems to me that most of the stuff mined in space should stay in space.

Earth has a mass of 5.97219×1024 kg with more being added everyday through meteor impacts. We would have to bring back A LOT of stuff to make even the tiniest difference.

I realize that, which is why my question was limited to large scale asteroid mining...   not little things.

So by 'large scale' you mean crashing Ceres onto the planet?  In which case, earth's mass goes up by 0.01%

I think your fears are misplaced.

fair enough.  Thanks for the info.  But no thanks for calling an inquiring mind ignorant.


You asked me to call you crazy.  I was paying you a compliment.
 
2014-01-13 05:40:07 PM  

maxheck: I don't really get the perceived value of gold and platinum et al. in asteroid mining.

What's really valuable is the aluminum, iron, titanium, oxygen, carbon, ice etc. *that is already outside Earth's gravity well.*

By the time you've hoisted it up from sea level to orbit a kilogram of water is worth a few dekagrams of gold on the ground. But if you can find some that's already out there, all sorts of things are possible.


The short explanation is that gold and platinum are extremely valuable in terms of their technological potential. If you want to build any kind of advanced technology in space, having the advanced materials to do so would really help. The bulk materials are good too!
 
2014-01-13 05:42:30 PM  

brantgoose: Long smart post


Additionally, the rise of asteroid and outer space mining will coincide with an increase of space travel and off-earth living, which will mean that much of the resources can be tranferred cheaply and kept off the earth entirely.

But breaking your economic argument down even more, essentially there's a huge up front fixed cost, absolutely risk involved, but as the industry develops, costs will go down and humanity can expand across the solar system, literally. Pretty cool.
 
2014-01-13 05:48:20 PM  
No time to worry about those minerals when THE HIVE CLUSTER IS UNDER ATTACK!
 
2014-01-13 05:49:04 PM  
LavenderWolf:

maxheck: I don't really get the perceived value of gold and platinum et al. in asteroid mining.

What's really valuable is the aluminum, iron, titanium, oxygen, carbon, ice etc. *that is already outside Earth's gravity well.*

By the time you've hoisted it up from sea level to orbit a kilogram of water is worth a few dekagrams of gold on the ground. But if you can find some that's already out there, all sorts of things are possible.

The short explanation is that gold and platinum are extremely valuable in terms of their technological potential. If you want to build any kind of advanced technology in space, having the advanced materials to do so would really help. The bulk materials are good too!


Sure, but a kg of gold of gold or platinum can make an immense amount of semiconductors or catalysts and doesn't cost any more to ship up as a kg of aluminum or water. But a kg of aluminum can only make so much habitat or robot, and a kg of water can only do so much.

The bulk materials are the ones you need to economize on.
 
2014-01-13 05:49:09 PM  
On top of the small amount of mass added by moving things onto the planet, remember that the gravitational pull between the Earth and the Sun is proportional to the product of their masses (and inversely proportional to the square of the distance between them).

Gravitational Force = G(m1*m2)/(r^2) (where G is a constant)

If I understand it correctly, because m1 (the Sun) is SO FARKING HUGE, in order to change F by any appreciable amount m2 (the Earth) has to really collect a rather lot of additional mass. Only something like subby's mom would really work for that, and we're definitely not capable of adding enough just by lobbing the products of asteroid mining to the surface.
 
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