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(The New York Observer)   NASA has discovered a metal asteroid that is worth an umpty-bazzeellion-gazillion dollars   (observer.com) divider line
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970 clicks; posted to STEM » on 28 Oct 2020 at 2:57 AM (5 weeks ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook



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2020-10-28 2:53:32 AM  
economicshelp.orgView Full Size
 
2020-10-28 3:16:35 AM  
Asteroid Psyche ... measures 14 miles (226 kilometers) across, about the size of West Virginia.

quizzicaldog.jpg

If they can't even get their state measurements right I ain't going to trust their gold price estimate
 
2020-10-28 3:23:17 AM  
Yeah, I'm pretty sure NASA did not discover 16 Psyche.
 
2020-10-28 3:27:32 AM  
It's valuable because we can't get to it.  If we can get to it, its value would depend on the cost of transporting the metal back to us.  Given the current cost of space flight, it's unlikely it will be cost effective any time soon.  And once space flight costs become inconsequential, the value of the metal becomes near zero.

Economics 101.
 
2020-10-28 3:36:19 AM  
That is one farkton of Portuguese speaking folk. Wow!
 
2020-10-28 3:43:10 AM  

whither_apophis: Asteroid Psyche ... measures 14 miles (226 kilometers) across, about the size of West Virginia.

quizzicaldog.jpg

If they can't even get their state measurements right I ain't going to trust their gold price estimate


When they drag it down to Earth, it'll leave a crater the size of West Virginia.
 
2020-10-28 3:46:28 AM  
Eh, NASA should give me the contract. I could bring it in:

Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2020-10-28 3:49:55 AM  

OgreMagi: It's valuable because we can't get to it.  If we can get to it, its value would depend on the cost of transporting the metal back to us.  Given the current cost of space flight, it's unlikely it will be cost effective any time soon.  And once space flight costs become inconsequential, the value of the metal becomes near zero.

Economics 101.


"Near zero"

Yeah, because a civilization making space craft won't have Any use for pure elemental iron...
 
2020-10-28 3:51:24 AM  
It is so recent a discovery that NASA will be launching a probe named PSYCHE to it in 2023 or thereabouts. It's so new that they just published a paper about how they successfully modeled the collision that created its distinctive huge craters, something that was actually quite difficult because something impacting rock leaves much different scars than if it impacts metal.

And its economic impact on Earth would be hugely negative, mostly because of the disruption that one planetary core attracting another and meeting halfway would have on the world.

The Moon would appear a bit bigger in the sky, though. And land developers would have a lot of business.
 
2020-10-28 4:20:24 AM  

aerojockey: Yeah, I'm pretty sure NASA did not discover 16 Psyche.


Annibale De Gasparis in 1852.

That it is as metal asteroid has been known for many decades as well.
 
2020-10-28 4:43:22 AM  

makerofbadjokes: OgreMagi: It's valuable because we can't get to it.  If we can get to it, its value would depend on the cost of transporting the metal back to us.  Given the current cost of space flight, it's unlikely it will be cost effective any time soon.  And once space flight costs become inconsequential, the value of the metal becomes near zero.

Economics 101.

"Near zero"

Yeah, because a civilization making space craft won't have Any use for pure elemental iron...


If we get enough iron,  we could have a potential use for every gram in the universe but the oversupply in any instant will keep it cheap as free.
 
2020-10-28 6:02:50 AM  
vignette.wikia.nocookie.netView Full Size

We need some mining ships...

Maybe a towed platform style would be good...

i.ytimg.comView Full Size
 
2020-10-28 6:11:53 AM  

leeksfromchichis: makerofbadjokes: OgreMagi: It's valuable because we can't get to it.  If we can get to it, its value would depend on the cost of transporting the metal back to us.  Given the current cost of space flight, it's unlikely it will be cost effective any time soon.  And once space flight costs become inconsequential, the value of the metal becomes near zero.

Economics 101.

"Near zero"

Yeah, because a civilization making space craft won't have Any use for pure elemental iron...

If we get enough iron,  we could have a potential use for every gram in the universe but the oversupply in any instant will keep it cheap as free.


I'd imagine the person who spent money on a spacecraft to bring you that iron wouldn't sell it for free.
They'd meter it out like diamonds to hover around market rate and make more than mining operations do.

It's not worthless unless you have your own space space ship to go and fetch it, which isn't free either.
 
2020-10-28 6:27:52 AM  

whither_apophis: Asteroid Psyche ... measures 14 miles (226 kilometers) across, about the size of West Virginia.

quizzicaldog.jpg

If they can't even get their state measurements right I ain't going to trust their gold price estimate


Measurements will alway be in Rhode Island's for me.
I hate this West Virginia metric system crap.
 
2020-10-28 6:39:46 AM  
10 quadrillion dollars

Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2020-10-28 6:43:20 AM  

spiralscratch: Eh, NASA should give me the contract. I could bring it in:

[Fark user image 850x531]


Just put it on a certain resort in Florida, it might actually make it worth something.
 
2020-10-28 6:47:47 AM  
Whar Ironic tag?!
 
2020-10-28 6:51:42 AM  
Maybe someone already owns it.
 
2020-10-28 6:52:58 AM  
I'm going to start a GoFundMe to buy it.
 
2020-10-28 7:31:38 AM  
\m/ (. .) \m/
 
2020-10-28 7:37:17 AM  

Merltech: spiralscratch: Eh, NASA should give me the contract. I could bring it in:

[Fark user image 850x531]

Just put it on a certain resort in Florida, it might actually make it worth something.


Not Florida.
By the time you get the asteroid back, Florida will be under 3 feet of water.
Except "Space Mountain Island", perhaps.
 
2020-10-28 8:06:56 AM  
Yeah, well good luck getting into Wakanda
 
2020-10-28 8:08:03 AM  
This article again?

THe value of the asteroid is decreased by the costs of retriving the materials from it
 
2020-10-28 8:20:36 AM  

whither_apophis: Asteroid Psyche ... measures 14 miles (226 kilometers) across, about the size of West Virginia.

quizzicaldog.jpg

If they can't even get their state measurements right I ain't going to trust their gold price estimate


I think it's a typo, that they dropped the zero so 14 miles should read 140 miles, which is roughly 226 kilometers.

That's very approximately the size of West Virginia.
 
2020-10-28 8:39:28 AM  
Discovered in 1852.
 
2020-10-28 8:59:31 AM  

kkinnison: This article again?

THe value of the asteroid is decreased by the costs of retriving the materials from it


Which makes the article more relevant as launch costs continue to drop.

In the next week or so there will either be a big milestone reached or a big explosion.
Maybe one, then the other.

scx2.b-cdn.netView Full Size
 
2020-10-28 9:35:50 AM  
Ogremagi has the right idea that you essentially have two resources today. We can call them SI for space iron and EI for Earth iron. Iron is just a proxy for whatever mineral.

RIght now EI is cheap but getting more expensive. You can use it on Earth, but if you want to send it to space in whatever form, it is 40 million bucks per kg. According to one article I read today. So let's say that iron is one dollar per kg on Earth and 40 million dollars per kg in space. EI is 1 and SI is 40M.

So what happens if ONE GUY/enterprise goes and gets a huge amount of SI. He can be a monopolist and ration it out carefully for, say, 20M per SI. What will happen? Well, he might attract competitors. Or he might get a SPACEX like outfit to convert EI to SI by boosting it into space. He will have to do all sorts of tricks to keep control of that monopoly. But if he does, he is keeping the supply of SI artificially low.

What if it is not one guy? WHat if we wind up with a lot of competition, or even an unstable oligopoly? Well, they will try to collude and limit production, but if they keep their SI price too high and other people will go off and get their own asteroids. Can the price get below 40M? Sure. Can it get below 10M? Sure. Can it get to 5 bucks? Of course. Can it get to 1? Yep. Remember that all of the costs to get that asteroid are sunk. There is no reason to think that the revenues from divvying up the SI have to be at any particular level. It is all bid/ask.

Go have a look at the fun and games at EVE Online. It is an eye opener, and most of them are not dumb people.

Ogremagi is reminding us that flooding the market with some resource can erode the PRICE of that resource. Maybe he chose the word VALUE and confused at least one person. Certainly a huge SI resource would be very valuable. It seems unlikely that SI will be sent to Earth to be sold as EI, but it might happen.
 
2020-10-28 9:52:10 AM  
Other remarks were made that the value of the asteroid is some function of what it costs to access it. Someone else said that lowered costs of accessing it increase its value.

No. And... no.

We all watched oil prices go negative not too long ago. Did that mean anything to anyone? That oil was plenty costly to access and transport. The value of that oil was exactly what people bid for it. I have seen plenty of times on this site ... pontification that frackers cannot produce oil below a certain price. Poppycock. Businesses run below average cost all the time, and there are rational reasons to do so. They can even run below marginal cost.

Lowered costs of accessing the resource do not change its value. They might make the enterprise more profitable. People might be willing to invest in it. 1849 Gold Rush. But the value of the resource is some amount that even the article did not get right. The asteroid value as a resource is very difficult to calculate. You would have to at least have some idea of what people would be likely to use it for, and what processes they will use to make the resource ready for use.

As the recent Nobel prize winners and many others have shown, letting people BID for the resource solves the problem very easily. I would bet that if they opened the bidding at the price shown in the article, you would see bids differ by several orders of magnitude in each direction.
 
2020-10-28 9:59:33 AM  
There are plenty of resources here and there describing different plans to capture an asteroid or even a comet or even to develop a moon base. I seem to remember that even some good ones do not get to a trillion dollars. It is something like 100 billionish with current technologies. You can rig up solar generation and recoup most of that, but mining of just about anything will be huge.

Do I even need to say that an easy asteroid would be a great project, but a comet, a dirty ball of ice, is the real goldmine? Water, ammonia, frozen gases.

And one more thing that is interesting.

So this article said that getting 1 kg of metal from the Earth to high orbit will cost 40 million bucks. The price to get 1 kg from the Moon to a LaGrange point?  16 cents.

Space economies are going to be very very weird. Stick around for the fun.
 
2020-10-28 10:02:36 AM  

OgreMagi: It's valuable because we can't get to it.  If we can get to it, its value would depend on the cost of transporting the metal back to us.  Given the current cost of space flight, it's unlikely it will be cost effective any time soon.  And once space flight costs become inconsequential, the value of the metal becomes near zero.

Economics 101.


Uhm, it is even more valuable than that. That asteroid represents all of the metal ore that we are likely to need as we start expanding across the solar system. It is really expensive to get building materials in microgravity from Earth. Building a robotic mining operation that send ore shipments back to a factory in orbit around the Earth is what enables construction in space.
 
2020-10-28 10:08:35 AM  

2fardownthread: Remember that all of the costs to get that asteroid are sunk.


We aren't going to go 'get' that asteroid. We are going to package up shipments between the asteroid belt and Earth orbit. The shipment sizes won't be so large that a whoopsie would be dangerous to Earth. We certainly wouldn't try to drag a planet-killer the size of West Virginia into Earth orbit.
 
2020-10-28 10:26:58 AM  

madgonad: 2fardownthread: Remember that all of the costs to get that asteroid are sunk.

We aren't going to go 'get' that asteroid. We are going to package up shipments between the asteroid belt and Earth orbit. The shipment sizes won't be so large that a whoopsie would be dangerous to Earth. We certainly wouldn't try to drag a planet-killer the size of West Virginia into Earth orbit.


Are we really? You seem so certain that you know exactly what they will do at some future date with some set of future technologies. How can you be that confident? What I know is that pushing and adusting the orbit slightly over a long period of time is totally doable. It has already been discussed as one strategy for bringing a resource into a central location for better exploitation.

I never said Earth orbit. Who would do that? We certainly wouldn't. I saw Starship Troopers. And I read Moon is a Harsh Mistress, where they used a mass driver to move huge masses. There are plenty of scenarios, and electricity will be cheap.

Go have a read. There is even a write up in Wikipedia on the MOONBASE article or somesuch about using the moon orbit or something close to it to park the asteroid and cover it with solar panels while it gets carved up. I have seen credible budgets for 20-30 year projects. And yes, they go GET the asteroid and bring it to where people can use it.
 
2020-10-28 10:36:07 AM  

madgonad: OgreMagi: It's valuable because we can't get to it.  If we can get to it, its value would depend on the cost of transporting the metal back to us.  Given the current cost of space flight, it's unlikely it will be cost effective any time soon.  And once space flight costs become inconsequential, the value of the metal becomes near zero.

Economics 101.

Uhm, it is even more valuable than that. That asteroid represents all of the metal ore that we are likely to need as we start expanding across the solar system. It is really expensive to get building materials in microgravity from Earth. Building a robotic mining operation that send ore shipments back to a factory in orbit around the Earth is what enables construction in space.


I guess you missed it. Ogremagi is making a point about scarcity vs. oversupply. His point is exactly that if scarcity is creating high prices for a resource, that price will drop when scarcity ceases. You make the point that it is expensive to get materials from Earth. Yes. That is true. The rest does not follow. You could have robots, you could have a factory in orbit.

But they could also be humans making components on the moon and mass driving them to a LaGrange point for assembly. You could use a space elevator from the moon even.

Aside from that, I think there is lingering confusion over PRICE vs. VALUE. Have fun.

There are plenty of ways the resource problem could be solved. Researchers have been working on the problem for at least 50 years. Given the amounts of money involved, they will probably find the best way.
 
2020-10-28 11:07:58 AM  
Iron isn't scarce. Its very common in this system.
Iron in hand, ready to feed into a smelter, isn't always easy to find.

On earth the low price of oil has allowed for materials to be transported where they are cheaply sourced to where they can be produced into more expensive goods.    As our oil economy is shuttered, the price of moving that material will increase. Regional location will start to matter a bit more, at least until the mines and smelters are closed too, then the cost of refined material will shoot up.

For now there's always the option to run to China and pollute as much as you want.  Tho I can't imagine this loophole will stay open as environmentalists demand the western world lock itself down. Either the west will rebuff against the movement or it will turn its attention east and demand the law is enforced.
So as that option closes then there's only one place left to go for industry.

If that's how things work out (unlikely as it seems) then Iron in orbit will have a significant value. Cause you won't be able to get it, move it, or process it down here when that time comes.
 
2020-10-28 11:17:01 AM  

2fardownthread: madgonad: 2fardownthread: Remember that all of the costs to get that asteroid are sunk.

We aren't going to go 'get' that asteroid. We are going to package up shipments between the asteroid belt and Earth orbit. The shipment sizes won't be so large that a whoopsie would be dangerous to Earth. We certainly wouldn't try to drag a planet-killer the size of West Virginia into Earth orbit.

Are we really? You seem so certain that you know exactly what they will do at some future date with some set of future technologies. How can you be that confident? What I know is that pushing and adusting the orbit slightly over a long period of time is totally doable. It has already been discussed as one strategy for bringing a resource into a central location for better exploitation.

I never said Earth orbit. Who would do that? We certainly wouldn't. I saw Starship Troopers. And I read Moon is a Harsh Mistress, where they used a mass driver to move huge masses. There are plenty of scenarios, and electricity will be cheap.

Go have a read. There is even a write up in Wikipedia on the MOONBASE article or somesuch about using the moon orbit or something close to it to park the asteroid and cover it with solar panels while it gets carved up. I have seen credible budgets for 20-30 year projects. And yes, they go GET the asteroid and bring it to where people can use it.


Mass drivers aren't magic. We are never going to use the whole thing, so why spend the energy moving it. We just discovered a really easy to access source of raw metals in microgravity. Don't know if energy will be available to smelt on Psyche so we are either nudging shipments of ore or refined metal into really slow orbital descents into Earth's vicinity.

This is 30-80 years in the future though.
 
2020-10-28 11:19:53 AM  

way south: Iron in hand, ready to feed into a smelter, isn't always easy to find.


This isn't iron ore like hematite which requires smelting.

This is actual iron and nickel.
 
2020-10-28 11:50:21 AM  
NASA has discovered a continent containing tremendous mineral resources.  Unfortunately , it is infested with venomous snakes, venomous spiders, venomous sharks, venomous sheep, and something called a "bogan" which is also believed to be venomous.
Fark user imageView Full Size
 
2020-10-28 12:50:15 PM  

2fardownthread: Are we really? You seem so certain that you know exactly what they will do at some future date with some set of future technologies. How can you be that confident? What I know is that pushing and adusting the orbit slightly over a long period of time is totally doable. It has already been discussed as one strategy for bringing a resource into a central location for better exploitation.


It's helpful to do a tiny bit of math to see why the idea of moving 16 Psyche much of anywhere is absurd in the context of near-term human civilization.

The thing's mass is about 2.4×1019 kg.  Changing its orbit to get it significantly closer to a convenient planet is a matter of around 103 m/s of delta-v, give or take.  The best electric propulsion technology we have requires expelling about 1/20th of the asteroid's mass in propellant to achieve a delta-v like that, so you're talking about needing 1018 kg of propellant.

That's somewhere in the ballpark of a hundred to a thousand times the total mass of every structure ever constructed since the dawn of human civilization.

That's just the reaction mass.  The systems necessary to accelerate that mass and provide the energy required would be a non-negligible fraction of that.  It gets somewhat better if you use locally-sourced reaction mass and nuclear propulsion, but you're still talking about consuming more nuclear fuel than the total mass of everything humans have ever dug out of the ground to date.  Any society capable of such things is so far removed from our current economic conditions that discussion of supply and demand on its metal markets from a present-day perspective is utter nonsense.
 
2020-10-28 1:03:57 PM  

OgreMagi: It's valuable because we can't get to it.  If we can get to it, its value would depend on the cost of transporting the metal back to us.  Given the current cost of space flight, it's unlikely it will be cost effective any time soon.  And once space flight costs become inconsequential, the value of the metal becomes near zero.

Economics 101.


Forget moving it. Use it as raw materials to build ships and components of a space station in 0g. Set up like a solar powered foundry and start printing out ship hulls.
 
2020-10-28 1:20:50 PM  

way south: kkinnison: This article again?

THe value of the asteroid is decreased by the costs of retriving the materials from it

Which makes the article more relevant as launch costs continue to drop.

In the next week or so there will either be a big milestone reached or a big explosion.
Maybe one, then the other.

[scx2.b-cdn.net image 850x489]


That thing is looking awesome. Thanks for the picture.
 
2020-10-28 2:03:56 PM  

daimlerneon: 10 quadrillion dollars

[Fark user image image 425x239]


Headline: $10,000,000,000,000,000,000

Article repeats that and writes out $10,000 quadrillion.

The hell is 10k quadrillion? You mean 10 quintillion dollars?

Did the little journalism major from the Observer lose track at 5 and couldn't figure out what to call it? Or is this some kind of APA standard because they don't think readers can track passed quadrillion?

\What's up with that?
 
2020-10-28 2:17:09 PM  

sithon: OgreMagi: It's valuable because we can't get to it.  If we can get to it, its value would depend on the cost of transporting the metal back to us.  Given the current cost of space flight, it's unlikely it will be cost effective any time soon.  And once space flight costs become inconsequential, the value of the metal becomes near zero.

Economics 101.

Forget moving it. Use it as raw materials to build ships and components of a space station in 0g. Set up like a solar powered foundry and start printing out ship hulls.


Ok Bob!
 
2020-10-28 2:56:12 PM  

Mr. Shabooboo: [vignette.wikia.nocookie.net image 320x240]
We need some mining ships...

Maybe a towed platform style would be good...

[i.ytimg.com image 527x296]


If you go with the second style, you're going to want to ignore any distress beacons.
 
2020-10-28 3:19:07 PM  

makerofbadjokes: OgreMagi: It's valuable because we can't get to it.  If we can get to it, its value would depend on the cost of transporting the metal back to us.  Given the current cost of space flight, it's unlikely it will be cost effective any time soon.  And once space flight costs become inconsequential, the value of the metal becomes near zero.

Economics 101.

"Near zero"

Yeah, because a civilization making space craft won't have Any use for pure elemental iron...


A civilization with space flight will have near infinite quantities of iron available to them.  It will all come down to transportation costs.  Fuel, crew, food, etc.
 
2020-10-28 3:20:51 PM  

sithon: OgreMagi: It's valuable because we can't get to it.  If we can get to it, its value would depend on the cost of transporting the metal back to us.  Given the current cost of space flight, it's unlikely it will be cost effective any time soon.  And once space flight costs become inconsequential, the value of the metal becomes near zero.

Economics 101.

Forget moving it. Use it as raw materials to build ships and components of a space station in 0g. Set up like a solar powered foundry and start printing out ship hulls.


Depends on what other raw materials are required and the cost of transporting them.  But yeah, a 0g manufacturing plant next to your primary raw material would make a lot of sense.
 
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