Talk:Asteroid mining

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WikiProject Mining (Rated Start-class, High-importance)
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Processing ore in outer space[edit]

This article is still in need of a section about processing ore in outer space, although this could be covered along with Lunar mining. — RJH 17:35, 21 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Negative. Lunar mining is a very different process than asteroid mining, because of the different compositions. Heating carbonaecous chondrite to get out water is much different than breaking apart oxides. Michaelbusch 21:34, 5 October 2006 (UTC)

Depletion of Metals[edit]

The article says "Based on known terrestrial reserves and growing consumption in developing countries along with excessive exploitation by developed countries, there is speculation that key elements needed for modern industry, including antimony, zinc, tin, silver, lead, indium, gold, and copper, could be exhausted on Earth within 50–60 years." However, there is no mention of the fact that metals can be recycled. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:57, 25 February 2013 (UTC)

Density and Composition[edit]

The only major problem I can see with placing rockets on asteroids to slow the revolution, even ones of high density, is that the gravity is still too tenuous to act on the body as a whole. In fact, the weak gravity would require that we come up with different method of mining all together, because shaft mining would weaken the integrity of the asteroid and as stated strip mining would create a ring or cloud of debris around the asteroid. -nick

This is largely a question of composition. In the case of bodies made of solid material, rather than gravitationally bound conglomerations of loose material, this is not an issue. Higher density bodies are much more likely to be solid, and given that higher density objects are more likely candidates for mining, this is unlikely to pose the problem you suggest. There is, of course, a lot of variety between individual asteroids, and certainly some would exhibit the problems you talk about, but asteroid selection is just that much more important.Azriphael 19:29, 5 October 2006 (UTC)
Higher density doesn't necessarily imply cohesion. A metallic rubble pile will have a much higher density than a solid silicate rock. More importantly, our current understanding of asteroids is that most of them are rubble piles (that is, they are held together largely by gravity rather than their own cohesive strength). This means that shaft mining is not necessarily a bad idea, because the asteroid is weak anyway. With regards to slowing the rotation with rockets: all that is required is that the rockets be anchored well enough to the surface that they don't pull themselves loose. That can be achieved by driving stakes into the surface. There are a few asteroids known that rotate so fast that they must be solid, but most of these are very small (<100 m) and they are definitely in the minority. Michaelbusch 21:34, 5 October 2006 (UTC)
I agree that solidity and density are only correlated, not linked. However, even if the vast majority of asteroids were rubble piles, there are an awful lot of 'em in the belt. If the techinique you are using requires a solid asteroid to be effective, you can find one. It is also my understanding (though I lack an authoritative source to link you to) that solid iron asteroids are actually more likely than silicate ones. Assuming roughly equivalent spectroscopy, density is a good indicator of solidity. Azriphael 18:07, 6 October 2006 (UTC)
I have learned from experience that spectroscopy is not a reliable indicator of composition (see M-type asteroid). More importantly, we have zero information on the densities of most objects (although they generally have to be more than 1 g/cm^3 to hold together, and aren't solid lead). Iron asteroids are much rarer than silicate asteroids, by about a factor of a hundred. This is based on radar observations, which give bulk densities of the near-surface material. Among asteroids known to be metallic (from radar observations), four of six have bulk densities such that they have to have high porosity. The remaining two don't have good bulk density constraints as yet (just >3.5 g/cm^3). Our information on this will get better: Mike Shepard of Bloomsburg University will be releasing some of his results next week. But there is still a shortage of solid objects. Modeling of the asteroid belt indicates that only very small (less than order 100 m) objects have high probability of remaining monolithic chunks. This is supported by the morphologies of objects in the km size range. Of course, once an object is big enough, it doesn't matter if it is a rubble-pile or not. The Earth isn't held together by cohesion and neither is Ceres or 216 Kleopatra. Michaelbusch 18:21, 6 October 2006 (UTC)
Is the basis of the modeling argument that larger monolithic bodies would not have formed, or that they would have been pulverized by now? Or is there some other perfectly reasonable argument here that isn't immediately apparent to me? Azriphael 20:23, 6 October 2006 (UTC)
Both. Objects of km size fragment during accretion (there have been many good papers on this. The work of Erik Asphaug of UC Santa Cruz comes to mind first), so the only way to produce solid shards is by annealing in the interiors of large objects (in the extreme case, melting to get out nickel-iron). Then, over the age of the solar system, objects up to tens of km in size are collisionally disrupted, which is what maintains the number of small objects. During collisional disruption, shards tend to be cohesive only on sub-km size scales (the is based both on the observed morphologies of small objects and the works of Holsapple, Morbidelli, and Canup, among others). Michaelbusch 21:25, 6 October 2006 (UTC)
Very well, then. I haven't reviewed the literature you suggest, but based on your explanation, that seems sensible. Azriphael 22:04, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

Given the above, is the debris resulting from surface (strip) mining really an issue? To the extent that the process kicked up a lot of small particulate debris, I could see it posing a threat to the mining vehicle as it attempted to leave the asteroid to return its cargo to Earth. However, in the case of waste material generated by the extraction process, even if it can't be safely placed back into the asteroid (unlikely, perhaps), simply ejecting it away from the craft's intended departure vector should render it harmless. Then again, I suppose that in large part the danger of disrupted clouds of debris is a function of their individual particles' mass and relative velocity vs. the fragility of the vehicle. Can someone cite a source for the specific techniques proposed and their respective advantages and drawbacks? Azriphael 22:04, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

Debris is a problem, because you don't want to be throwing lots of dust into space around the object. Unless you throw it away very quickly, it will stay near the asteroid for a long time. There aren't many very good references on the advantages and disadvantages of various techniques. Probably the best is Lewis & Lewis, 1987 "Space Resources". It is unfortunately somewhat dated. Michaelbusch 22:10, 19 October 2006 (UTC)
Because the only asteroids worth mining for iron, nickel, ect. are S-type asteroid and X-type asteroid. those asteroids would (in theory) be dense enough for shaft mining. --Hellstorm88 01:56, 23 July 2007 (UTC)

This article needs an inclusion in the Economics header of the qualified opinion by experts such as Rusty Schweickart and Carl Sagan on issues with space law and ethics concerning technology of moving large bodies. These objections are well publicized and have been located in the Asteroid Impact Avoidance wiki article under "Deflection technology concerns", none of which is posted by anyone I am aware of.

Twice an otherwise qualified contributor has removed these items and links. The first his objection has been there an issue of slanted opinion. No, it is not my objection, but rather these famous individuals'. As James Randi said of Sagan qualifiers on many a subject, "We may not agree, but we ignore Carl's points at our peril" -- and is therefore food for thought. Any serious effort at asteroid mining is going to have to deal with the issue, so it is ridiculous to remove it for this reason.

Second, the contributor has removed it now for listed reason in lack of reference. Do a word search on the listed wiki link article or go to the heading as the posted link directs "harm the Earth" if need be. The posted reference there to Sagan's book "Pale Blue Dot" is clear enough. If there is any issue with the inference being misapplied to Asteriod impact avoidance, we can handle that readily enough.

Sagan's issue is the development of asteroid avoidance technology to be misapplied in terrorism to asteroid impact technology. The very nature of asteroid mining is to have directed LEO or impact technology, which is considerably closer. Albeit with normally much less mass, by the very nature of economies of scale has larger the better intersection of LEO or Earth harvest.

Certainly artwork showing a towed flying mountain to LEO by some proponents is outrageous risk to the point of being fantasy. The Tuskunga event was of similar size and not too much more dV than the potentially more deadly pin point insertions being planned for asteroid mining.

I therefore contend that Sagan's objection in particular is important to be listed as an economic aspect of the Asteroid Mining wiki article and satisfactory posted in reputable internet sources, including wiki, and will persist in re-posting it until we have a neutral party arbitrate. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Mawrth (talkcontribs) 19:14, 29 June 2012 (UTC)

For second time: You are not citing any reference. Please note that Wikipedia itself is not a valid source (WP:CIRCULAR) nor is expecting the reader to figure out the missing valid sources. Also, focus on improving the encyclopedia itself, rather than demanding more from other Wikipedians. Your edit is reverted again. I realize these are common mistakes from newcommers unfamiliar with the required procedures, so please feel free to get familiar with Wikipedia:Tutorial and the Wikipedia:Five pillars. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 19:32, 29 June 2012 (UTC)

Ok, consider it done. But you also deleted on the links section the part to Asteroid Impact Avoidance(wiki) which was not a reference link. Perhaps merely an oversight for the convenience of a hasty, painless 'undo all'. But something on your side to consider for the future should it have been unintentional, along with better care regarding tone slurs to new or preoccupied-to-deal-with-the-fine-print users in this unpaid effort. Mawrth (talk) 20:51, 29 June 2012 (UTC)

Finished. I prefer you let me know through the talk page if this seems lacking, but will accept come what may. Mawrth (talk) 21:22, 29 June 2012 (UTC)

Also for your and other's knowledge, the reference link was sort of posted in the other wiki. Circular links are not allowed, but wiki links are if properly referenced on the other end, which makes sense. So I seem to read, and the distinction is important. In this case a poorly referenced wiki link to a book rather than a url, and I apologize. Mawrth (talk) 21:37, 29 June 2012 (UTC)

Circular links are not allowed, but wiki links are if properly referenced on the other end, which makes sense.
Wikipedia itself is not an acceptable/valid reference, whether it is circular or not, which makes sense. Regarding the 'Asteroid impact avoidance' wikilink in the See also section, no, I did not noticed it and I apologize for that. Cheers, BatteryIncluded (talk) 01:37, 30 June 2012 (UTC)

Proposed Merger with Space Mining[edit]

Keep separate - I think that this has been discussed before, though I'm in a bit of a hurry right now and don't want to go digging through the history of the talk page. I don't think that this is a particularly good plan. You might take a look at Michaelbusch's comments above about the differences in processing ore. The evidence presented here seems to me to suggest that the processes of mining on an asteroid are radically different from those needed to mine a extra-Terran planet. Given this distinction, I think it would be more sensible to include a small note about the major differences in these processes in the space mining article and to leave this information in its own space, with similar articles for extra-Terran planetary mining and any other major category that makes sense. At present, the only real argument I can see to merge the two is that the space mining article is nearly empty, while this article is considerably more extensive. However, I view that as being an issue of a shortcoming of the space mining article, not a mis-categorization of this one. Azriphael 22:04, 19 October 2006 (UTC)

Agreed. — RJH (talk) 14:44, 20 October 2006 (UTC)

Proposed History paragraph[edit]

I added the following paragraph yesterday. User Michaelbusch promptly deleted it.


The idea of moving mining to space dates back at least to Russian space visionary Konstantin Tsiolkovski (1903). Robert Goddard's pioneering rocketry experiments in the 1920's were paid for by the Guggenheim foundation, with money from mining. Goddard himself envisioned the migration of industry and people to space (1918). (Source: ref. 2)

From the Asteroid mining history page: 04:54, 5 December 2006 Michaelbusch (rv. additions. History is not a bad idea, but this paragraph is not well written and is inaccurate. Citations!)

Reply: All of these statements are drawn from Ref. 2, John S. Lewis, "Mining the Sky: Untold Riches from the Asteroids, Comets, and Planets". Do you want them individually footnoted? What did you think was inaccurate?

As for the writing quality, editing would seem better than deletion.

Comments from others? Pete Tillman 18:24, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

MB:The implication of the second sentence is that Guggenheim somehow thought that they would mine space, which I very much doubt. I would simply remove that sentence and edit the rest of the paragraph.

PT: My intent was just to show that a mining-based foundation was supporting space exploration in the 1920's. The Guggenheims were a remarkable family. For all either of us knows, someone at the family/foundation had read Tsiolkovski....

MB: I don't have Lewis' book in front of me, but I would prefer citations to the original statements by Tsiolkovski and Goddard if someone can find them (note also that asteroid mining as discussed here and the industry invisioned in the early 20th century are somewhat different). John is very good, but he is on occasion over-enthusiastic. Michaelbusch 18:43, 5 December 2006 (UTC)

I'll try to remember to look at the book at the library -- though I can't think of any reason Lewis would fabricate this. In any case, secondary sources are fine for WP, so long as they're cited properly. Pete Tillman 18:40, 7 December 2006 (UTC)

I wasn't suggesting that John fabricated, merely that he was making a sales pitch. Michaelbusch 18:52, 7 December 2006 (UTC)


I am working on a rough translation of this article so that the one in French can be more than a few sentences long. I hope noone minds.--Freiberg, Let's talk!, contribs 19:45, 25 November 2007 (UTC)

In Science Fiction?[edit]

Asteroid Miners seem to be so common in SF that it amounts to a cliché. A history of "asteroid mining in SF" would make a nice addition to this article. -- (talk) 00:10, 3 March 2010 (UTC)

I agree, "Asteroid Mining in popular culture"?Olyus (talk) 11:10, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
Please, please not another "pop culture section"! It'll only encourage inclusion of every mention of asteroids in every video game & bad movie ever made. TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 11:30, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
There is already an article for this suggested topic: Asteroids in fiction.—RJH (talk) 15:54, 4 March 2010 (UTC)
That movie (Deep Impact (film)) was actually amazing, it had Morgan_Freemen as president. But i do agree with you, we don't need anymore science fiction to cliché up true science. stevenDP (talk) 12:29, 14 February 2012 (PST)

Lead is wrong[edit]

The cited references on the fact that all mined metals here on earth come from asteroides do not back up the claims. The sources only claim the highly siderophile elements and here only a few were tested. Iron and nickel are not tested and not mentioned. The iron silicates make up large proportion of basalt (olivine) so it is not in the core.--Stone (talk) 21:14, 29 June 2010 (UTC)

Radioactive elements.[edit]

Would some of the elements be radioactive because they are not shielded by an atmosphere? Especially the elements on the surface to be strip mined.


If astroids are made up of loose rubble piles. With a lack of wind, water, and gravity to erode the small rubble to dust size pieces. That would mean all of the astroids material would be very sharp and highly erosive. I would assume this to be a major issue to overcome.

Mission costs[edit]

doe anyone knows the estimated costs of a retrieval mission ? would be nice to put some exemples ?--Beaucouplusneutre (talk) 19:47, 29 July 2011 (UTC)

"It has been estimated that the mineral wealth resident in the belt of asteroids between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter would be equivalent to about 100 billion dollars for every person on Earth today." ( stevenDP (talk) 10:23, 9 February 2012 (PST)

There is an asteroid mining feasibility study by the Keck Institute for Space Studies ( that found the cost for a mission to return a 7 meter in diameter asteroid to lunar orbit to be $2.6 billion. — Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:38, 26 February 2014 (UTC)

asteroid catching and retrieval[edit]

where does it belong ? the same strategies to avoid can be used for retrieval Asteroid-impact_avoidance#Collision_avoidance_strategies should i make a new page or put it here ? — Preceding unsigned comment added by Beaucouplusneutre (talkcontribs) 09:32, 13 July 2011 (UTC)

more Image needed -- reqphoto tag added[edit]

This article could really use more drawings or artist's conceptions of asteroid mining. I'm adding a {{reqphoto}} tag.--Beaucouplusneutre 18:21, 27 July 2011 (UTC) — Preceding unsigned comment added by Beaucouplusneutre (talkcontribs)

neo detection[edit]

can we expand a little on that ? does someone knows if they are telescopes ( radio or spectro) that specifically try to detect neos presence and composition ? --Beaucouplusneutre (talk) 20:07, 29 July 2011 (UTC)

what do you think if we add some videos of talks abouts asteroid mining ? (sff or ssi as exemple)

nice website with cool pictures[edit] (talk) 15:58, 17 February 2012 (UTC)


old video of asteroid retrieval mission (2004 ) video of lee valentine the panel is also interesting. does someone have found other video like that ? idea recommended , transponder and multiple kinetic impact on several neos (for caracterization)

what i would like on wiki is a directory of video about space subjects, so i try to add some, its so much easier to understand the subject.--Beaucouplusneutre (talk) 11:37, 19 April 2012 (UTC)

Offhand I don't see an on-wiki video about asteroid retreival, but Commons:Category:Videos of space exploration and its parents, children, siblings and other kincats have many on space subjects. Jim.henderson (talk) 02:16, 22 April 2012 (UTC)

Moon/planet mining[edit]

I am aware the phrase asteroid mining is well known and in common usage, and is what I would type if looking for this article. But would mining of other planets and moons be the same scope, would it be included in asteroid mining, if not where would it be included, if yes, should this be article be another title? extra terrestrial mining, maybe? I see we have In-situ resource utilization but that is using minerals mined in space, in space, if we took those minerals back to Earth it would not be In-situ resource utilization. But it would still be asteroid mining or extraterrestrial mining. Carlwev (talk) 18:23, 17 June 2012 (UTC)

elvis equation[edit]

[1]. --Gravitophoton (talk) 09:31, 11 December 2013 (UTC)

-> & --Gravitophoton (talk) 09:25, 23 January 2014 (UTC)

"unlimited resource of materials"[edit]

The Asteroid mining#Scarcity section seems weirdly worded, a bit like an advertisement. Especially: "Asteroid mining has the potential to provide the world with an unlimited resource of materials" Skasski (talk) 07:58, 11 July 2014 (UTC)

deep space act 2014[edit]

Bipartisan Legislation Promotes Commercial Space Ventures, [2], could be important for the article , some more refs are here: [3] ,[4] . --Gravitophoton (talk) 13:26, 16 July 2014 (UTC)

Legal Framework[edit]

I think a discussion of the legal framework and property rights should be added to this article. SarahLawrence Scott (talk) 18:45, 29 August 2014 (UTC)