13 August 2013

Asteroid mining comes a step closer

Some folk at Strathclyde University have just posted an interesting paper to arXiv. Entitled ‘Easily Retrievable Objects among the NEO Population’, it identifies no fewer than 12 small asteroids in near Earth orbits that could be ‘retrieved’ using more or less our present level of rocket technology. I put scare quotes around the word retrieved because (for fairly obvious reasons) their idea of retrieval does not involve attempting to get these objects to the Earth’s surface. Rather, they propose that these objects could be nudged out of their present orbits so that they end up at one of the Earth–Sun Lagrangian points.

Doubtless the folk at Planetary Resources (a company set to to begin mining asteroids as soon as possible) will be examining this list with some interest: some of these objects could be ideal test cases for them.

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