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Record Setting Asteroid Could Be Worth $195 Billion

| 13 Feb 2013 19:34
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A Company that wants to mine asteroids has estimated the value of the asteroid 2012 DA14.

The large asteroid set to break records while flying past earth is a mine of space construction materials worth as much as $195 billion, according to Deep Space Industries (DSI), a company with the goal of mining asteroids. The metals and propellants in the asteroid are so valuable by virtue of already being in space, but are also currently impossible to mine. If the asteroid contains 5% of its mass as water, that water could be worth as much as $65 billion as propellant for spacecraft, while metals in the asteroid could be worth $130 billion as construction materials. 2012 DA14 is about 50 yards (45 meters) across. According to DSI, 80% of the value is based on how expensive it would be to move tens of thousands of tons of material from earth to space.

Of course, this is all hypothetical. Asteroid 2012 DA14 is on a very fast, very close course past earth - it's far from an ideal asteroid to mine. The rocket to alter its course, and the spacecraft to mine it, don't exist yet. DSI, on the other hand, believes there are other near-Earth asteroids that would be easier to mine, which is why in the coming years it intends to launch a fleet of satellites to explore space and find good candidates, followed by spacecraft to take samples from those asteroids they identify. Asteroids are ideal for mining because minerals are evenly distributed throughout, unlike earth where heavier metals are closer to the core. Asteroids are also rich in rare minerals, like the platinum group metals, which can be found in greater concentrations than on earth. It's also worth noting that, as this frustrated Forbes columnist says, all of this material isn't really worth anything where it is now, because nobody can sell it.

Asteroid 2012 DA14 will pass by earth on February 15 at a distance closer than most global positioning satellites. NASA has said that there is no chance it will impact Earth.

Source: Network World
Image: Deep Space Industries

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