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Strike new gold from asteroid mining?

(People's Daily Online)

07:47, February 21, 2013

(Photo/ People's Daily)

The recent meteor crash in Russia injured about 1,200 people, but space rocks and asteroids are usually rich in mineral resources, and potential risks cannot stop people from exploiting these resources.

Most known asteroids in the solar system are in the asteroid belt between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. There are a large number of asteroids rich in chemical and mineral resources, and metallic asteroids are most worthy of exploitation.

Metallic asteroids are mainly composed of iron and nickel, and contain many rare metals, including platinum, rhodium, iridium, and osmium.

Experts said that a metallic asteroid with a diameter of only 1,000 meters may weigh 2 billion tons, containing 200 million tons of iron, 30 million tons of high-quality nickel, 1.5 million tons of strategic metal cobalt, and 75 million tons of platinum group metals (PGMs). The asteroid’s platinum reserve alone is worth 150 billion U.S. dollars.

Compared with the Moon and Mars, asteroids are much easier to be mined. The gravity of asteroids is negligible, which greatly facilitates the taking off and landing of spacecraft as well as the construction of mining facilities. Furthermore, an asteroid can provide a microgravity environment for research and development in high-technology industries.

So far, human beings have only conducted sporadic unmanned exploration of asteroids.

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Read the Chinese version: 太空,下一个淘金场?. Source: People's Daily

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