A few minutes every morning is all you need.
Stay up to date on the world's Headlines and Human Stories. It's fun, it's factual, it's fluff-free.
Last week, NASA successfully launched a mission to reach Psyche, an asteroid in the Main Asteroid Belt (between Mars and Jupiter) that’s thought to be made of iron, nickel and silicates. By launching this mission, NASA will be trying to figure out if Psyche is a stripped planetary core, meaning it might’ve once been in the running to become a whole planet, but it didn’t ultimately form. The spacecraft itself won’t get to Psyche until 2029, which is when it’ll orbit the asteroid and analyze it for evidence of a past magnetic field.
NASA says, “Psyche may be able to tell us how Earth’s core and the cores of the other rocky, or terrestrial, planets came to be.”
But who cares about all that nerdy stuff? The thing on everyone else’s mind is – can we mine this thing? Or what about other space rocks?
Rich in valuable minerals, Psyche could be worth between an estimated US$10 quintillion and US$700 quintillion on the higher end, with the lowest estimate being just US$11.65 trillion. For those looking beyond Earth to mine useful minerals, Psyche is among the first considered targets. Other space rocks are closer, like the moon, but Psyche is so mineral-rich that it’s definitely up there on the list for some space-mining hopefuls.
And yes, space mining startups do already exist; they just haven’t done much space mining yet. Minerals and resources that are either scarce on Earth or that are unsustainable or dangerous to mine or collect could eventually be pulled from these space rocks instead. There are a lot of obstacles in actually making space mining a reality – like how difficult it is to get enough of any material back to Earth to make the process efficient or profitable. But, in the far future, this could become a viable option.
"While space mining has not yet become a reality, the technology that will eventually enable to exploitation of the rich resources of the asteroids in the solar system is increasingly being developed by a variety of companies,” says Statista’s dossier on space mining.