Asteroid Detection Mining
New asteroid detection technology will increase awareness of mining opportunities
Abundant Planet 10 (abundantplanet.org, “The Age of Asteroid Mining”, no specific date, 2010, Accessed 7/11/11, AH)
Future NEA sample-return missions are planned by the engineers at JAXA (Hayabusa 2), as well as several other groups in the European Space Agency and at NASA. (NASA’s Dawn spacecraft, launched in September 2007, aims for two main belt asteroids.) Missions to analyze, monitor, respond to, and, if necessary, move potentially hazardous NEAs (PHAs), such as Apophis, have also been planned. One such mission is projected to cost less than $20 million. The Hayabusa mission to Itokawa cost $170 million. To date, over 7,000 NEAs have been identified. Of these, 15% are easier to reach than the moon. New telescopes, such as Pan-STARRS and the LSST (generating “terabytes of data/night”), are expected to detect half a million more (500,000) over the next 15 years. This will significantly increase awareness of both Earth-impact risks and business opportunities.
Asteroid Detection allows us to find asteroids to be mined, it also allows us to discover asteroids that have already been mined by other Alien beings.
Smithsonian Science 11 [Scientific Research Institution, Smithsonian Institution, “Evidence of asteroid mining in our galaxy may lead to the discovery of extraterrestrial civilizations,” April 5, 11, Accessed: 7/11/11, http://smithsonianscience.org/2011/04/evidence-of-asteroid-mining-in-our-galaxy-may-lead-to-the-discovery-of-extraterrestrial-civilizations/]
With Earth’s population moving toward 7 billion, humankind may someday need to look to space to help feed its need for precious metals, iron ore and other raw materials. Asteroids are a logical place to look for such resources as they contain enough gold, platinum, iron and nickel to perhaps one day make the technological challenges of mining them economically feasible. In fact, say astrophysicists Duncan Forgan of the Institute for Astronomy at the University of Edinburgh and Martin Elvis of the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, if intelligent and more advanced civilizations exist on other planets then its a good bet that some of these civilizations turned to asteroid mining long ago. If so, the hallmarks of their mining activities, such as unusual dirty halos of cast-off dust and debris around large asteroids, might be detectable from earth. In a recent paper Forgan and Elvis detail what type of signs astronomers might look for with optical, thermal and spectral telescopes to detect such mining activities. For example, a deficit of certain elements in the debris cloud around and near an asteroid may indicate elements which have been removed through mining. An unnatural ratio between large and small asteroids in a region may indicate where larger asteroids have been targeted and broken up through mining activity. Asteroid mining also should leave distinct thermal signatures as drilling on a large scale would require great energy, and also create glassy silicas such as obsidian. As telescopes on Earth become more and more refined such tell-tale signatures of targeted mining of asteroids should become easier to detect than they are today, the scientists say. “Asteroid mining may be a common milestone in the development of space-faring civilizations, and therefore if intelligent civilizations are common, then these observational signatures would also be common,” Forgan and Elvis write in their paper. To be detectable from Earth, asteroid mining “must be prolific and industrial-scale, producing large amounts of debris and disrupting the system significantly,” the astronomers write. In humankind’s continuing search for extra terrestrial intelligence signatures of targeted asteroid mining may be among the first clues to alert us to the presence of other intelligent, technological life forms in our galaxy.
Asteroid Detection Mining
Detection leads to mining
Murrill and Whalen 98 (Mary Beth Murrill and Mark Whalen are spokespeople for NASA’s Jet Propulsion Lab. Mark Whalen “JPL will establish Near-Earth Object Program Office for NASA,”JPL Universe, July 24, http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/program/neo.html, TDA)
This activity is not only for hazard assessment, he said, but also to identify optimal opportunities for ground-and space-based observations of these objects and "to identify which bodies might be exploited for their mineral wealth in the next century. Asteroids offer extraordinary mineral resources for the structures required to colonize the inner solar system and comets, and with their vast supplies of water ice, could provide life-sustaining water as well as the liquid oxygen and hydrogen required for rocket fuel." "It seems ironic that the very objects that bear watching because they could threaten Earth are the same ones that are most easily accessible to future space missions - missions that might exploit their considerable resources," he said.
Asteroids = resources
One asteroid can provide over 800 tons of raw materials, as well as be used for transportation at insanely low costs
Rather et al. 2010 [John; Powell, James Maise, George "New Technologies and Strategies to Exploit Near Earth Asteroids for Breakthrough Space Development."
AIP Conference Proceedings; 1/28/2010, Vol. 1208 Issue 1, p566-570, 5p, 3 Black and White Photographs, PN]
Even one captured ten-meter diameter dust and rock “rubble Pile” asteroid can enable a vast improvement in human safety for travel from low Earth orbit to the vicinity of the moon or beyond. Robotic devices can burrow into the asteroid and reform its material into useful configurations. Ample material, amounting to more than 800 metric tonnes per trapped asteroid, will be available for radiation shielding to enable regular travel through the Van Allen belts. About 1 kg per square centimeter of shielding material surrounding interior habitats for human passengers will provide protection as effective as the atmosphere at the Earth’s surface and will therefore eliminate hazards to humans from solar flares and energetic cosmic particles. Transformed asteroids also can be steered into convenient elliptical orbits that make use of their considerable inertia to transport “hitch-hiking” passengers and cargo up from low Earth orbit at very low cost. Basically, the natural gift of large orbital momentum can be utilized without launching it from the Earth. There will be no threat to the Earth from such methods because the objects remain small enough that they would be disrupted in the atmosphere before reaching the surface if they should accidentally be perturbed into impact trajectories. Routine momentum exchange with hitch-hiking orbital transfer payloads may require a low thrust solar-plasma engine attached to the asteroid for continuous station keeping, but this is a minor detail. Ultimately, asteroids that osculate the orbits of Earth and Mars (or the asteroid Main Belt) can be similarly modified to provide safe and comfortable human transport for long duration trips.
Asteroids have a lot more minerals than earth
Sonter 2006 (Mark Sonter is a mining industry expert and fellow at the National Space Society, “Asteroid Mining: Key to the Space Economy,” Space.com, February 9, http://www.space.com/2032-asteroid-mining-key-space-economy.html, TDA)
The Near Earth Asteroids offer both threat and promise. They present the threat of planetary impact with regional or global disaster. And they also offer the promise of resources to support humanity's long-term prosperity on Earth, and our movement into space and the solar system. The technologies needed to return asteroidal resources to Earth Orbit (and thus catalyze our colonization of space) will also enable the deflection of at least some of the impact-threat objects. We should develop these technologies, with all due speed! Development and operation of future in-orbit infrastructure (for example, orbital hotels, satellite solar power stations, earth-moon transport node satellites, zero-g manufacturing facilities) will require large masses of materials for construction, shielding, and ballast; and also large quantities of propellant for station-keeping and orbit-change maneuvers, and for fuelling craft departing for lunar or interplanetary destinations. Spectroscopic studies suggest, and 'ground-truth' chemical assays of meteorites confirm, that a wide range of resources are present in asteroids and comets, including nickel-iron metal, silicate minerals, semiconductor and platinum group metals, water, bituminous hydrocarbons, and trapped or frozen gases including carbon dioxide and ammonia. As one startling pointer to the unexpected riches in asteroids, many stony and stony-iron meteorites contain Platinum Group Metals at grades of up to 100 ppm (or 100 grams per ton). Operating open pit platinum and gold mines in South Africa and elsewhere mine ores of grade 5 to 10 ppm, so grades of 10 to 20 times higher would be regarded as spectacular if available in quantity, on Earth. Water is an obvious first, and key, potential product from asteroid mines, as it could be used for return trip propulsion via steam rocket. About 10% of Near-Earth Asteroids are energetically more accessible (easier to get to) than the Moon (i.e. under 6 km/s from LEO), and a substantial minority of these have return-toEarth transfer orbit injection delta-v's of only 1 to 2 km/s