Talk:Asteroid mining

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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 128.111.174.67 (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.

History[edit]

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)

Translation[edit]

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. -- 92.229.179.88 (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.

Erosion.[edit]

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." (http://neo.jpl.nasa.gov/neo/resource.html) stevenDP (talk) 10:23, 9 February 2012 (PST)

There is an asteroid mining feasibility study by the Keck Institute for Space Studies (http://www.kiss.caltech.edu/study/asteroid/asteroid_final_report.pdf) 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 67.185.126.209 (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]

http://www.asteroidmines.net/--Beaucouplusneutre (talk) 15:58, 17 February 2012 (UTC)

video[edit]

old video of asteroid retrieval mission (2004 ) http://www.planetarydefense.info/resources/sitemap.html# 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)

-> http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-25716103 & http://arxiv.org/abs/1312.4450. --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)

BRD discussion on "scarcity"[edit]

I recently edited the section on Scarcity in an attempt to make the prose more correct with the standard economic understanding of scarcity, which is also the understanding that is reflected in the linked article on scarcity, linked in the section introduction.

Another editor, acting in good faith, reverted my edit with the edit comment: "the point is that there is so much out there relative to what we need that resources will no longer be scarce"

So rather than have the start of a revert back-and-forth in the article mainspace, let's Discuss it here, under the standard WP:BRD process. N2e (talk) 13:26, 17 December 2014 (UTC)

Because of shear amount of resources contained in asteroids, the standard scarcity-based economic thinking may no longer apply. That's the point of that sentence, not that it may simply lower cost (which it would, of course, also do). --JorisvS (talk) 13:32, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
Well, actually, it does apply. Scarcity doesn't mean quite what you think it does. Scarcity has to do with the notion of what humans want, relative to that which is available to them, at any particular point in time and at any particular point of the state of human technology. So for example, with respect to asteroids, I would concur with you that the total amount of stuff out there is (virtually) unlimited. But that doesn't make the amount of stuff for any particular human purpose at any time and in any place unlimited. Asteroidal materials, both in the raw state, the collected ore state, and in the refined state (refined to whatever level particular humans might prefer them when they purchase them) remain scarce. Scarcity is not obviated.
Now, having said all that, I will say that the sentence I added in trying to make it better (and which you reverted) is not the most articulate and encyclopedic sentence I've ever written. I left it, after my edit, as: "Scarcity is a fundamental economic problem of humans having seemingly unlimited wants in a world of limited resources. Asteroid mining has the potential to provide lower cost resources, which could reduce the price for obtaining those materials, at particular locations in particular epochs with some given set of human technology."
Better might be "Scarcity is a fundamental economic problem of humans having seemingly unlimited wants in a world of limited resources. Asteroid mining has the potential to make lower-cost resources available, which could reduce the price for obtaining a wide variety of materials, especially resources for use in extraterrestrial locations beyond Earth-orbit."
(or even): "Scarcity is a fundamental economic problem of humans having seemingly unlimited wants in a world of limited resources. Asteroid mining has the potential to make dramatically lower-cost resources available, which could substantially reduce the price for obtaining a wide variety of materials, especially resources for use in extraterrestrial locations beyond Earth-orbit."
But is definitely incorrect to say, as the article does now, that scarcity will be eliminated. Quote from the article as it is right now, following your revert: "Scarcity is a fundamental economic problem of humans having seemingly unlimited wants in a world of limited resources. Asteroid mining has the potential to provide nearly unlimited resources, which could eliminate scarcity for those materials." Moreover, there is no reliable source whatsoever for that claim about eliminating scarcity for "those materials". N2e (talk) 14:45, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
Asteroid mining is a game changer unrivalled in all of history, which also means that traditional wisdoms may not longer be true. The one scarce resource that will remain is human labor, and even there, more and more can and will be reallocated to robots and computers. Of course this will lead to an increased demand for resources per capita, but also to an more-rapidly increased ability to go get those resources and ability to make stuff. In a world with scarce resources human wants may look infinite, but this is no longer the case if everything is truly abundant. --JorisvS (talk) 16:09, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
What you say about game-changing may very well be true. Heck, I'm an optimist, and personally, I hope it's true. But this being Wikipedia, what we can say in articles in this encyclopedia is what is verifiable, and what we have reliable sources on that can be cited in the article.
So while if this were to be found to be true in 10 or 30 or 100 years, it would be amazing, it isn't going to change the definition of scarcity as it is used in economics and economic thinking. "scarcity will be eliminated" just makes no sense, and shows a misunderstanding of the concept. Thought experiment: Even if every asteroid was loaded with clean, highly-refined oxygen, hydrogen, and refined hydorcarbons just waiting to flow out of the asteroidal material, and if spaceflight and access to space from terrestrial environs was orders of magnitude less expensive than it is today, then humans would still incur costs in getting there, in adding a connection valve to the asteroid so that the imagined hoses might be attached for humans to collect this (low-cost) resource, or costs to otherwise collect the material, pumping costs, transport costs, etc. Each one of those costs (plus of course, locating, extracting, refining, transporting the asteroid in the first place) would have costs to humans, costs in normal pecuniary measures, plus costs in time (our most scarce resource) to obtain the asteroidal resources. Each item I've listed here demonstrates that scarcity would not be eliminated. N2e (talk) 17:41, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
Your problem here isn't in the scarcity in asteroids, its in clarifying your definition of scarcity. The resources are functionally unlimited for the forseeable future; what's at issue is the form & location of them, which, as I'm undertanding it, is what you mean by "scarcity". Clear that up, & you've dealt with the issue. TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 18:48, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
Prospecting a near-Earth asteroid with current cutting-edge technology is about as expensive as prospecting a potential mine on Earth and before you go there one can learn much more about them than a potential mine on Earth. Mining them is in many ways easier than mining on Earth, because it can be done in the clean vacuum of space with abundant free energy and without any gravity bothering the miner (such as no differentiation). A carbonaceous asteroid (say 20% volatiles in weight) ~75 meters across contains more water than used in the entire space shuttle program. A metallic asteroid a few hundred meters across contains more platinum-group metals than has been mined in all of human history. And such small asteroids are plentiful and some of them are easier to reach than the surface of the Moon. Asteroid mining will be done fully robotically. All of this is sourceable.
"Scarcity is the fundamental economic problem of having seemingly unlimited human wants in a world of limited resources. It states that society has insufficient productive resources to fulfill all human wants and needs." – The point is that asteroid mining combined with ever accelerated technological advancement is such a game changer that there will quickly be more productive resources than necessary to meet all human needs (which may look infinite at present, but are in fact quite finite). --JorisvS (talk) 18:49, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
♠I agree with you on all of it. The problem is explaining what "scarcity" means in the context in question, as opposed to the general reader's erstanding (& mine ;p ).
♠BTW, asteroid mining also offers solutions to living space problems, & energy-access (presuming locating them in the Trojan points, & or building SPS with asteroidal material at same is done), which puts paid to the complaints of expense of building SPS IMO. (Even leave off the O'Neill habs.) TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 19:00, 17 December 2014 (UTC)
The difference between the day-to-day definition and the economic one is not very relevant, because it is both defined as the economic and what I've said holds regardless. And the same statement but for building things also holds. --JorisvS (talk) 19:13, 17 December 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────It seems this discussion has been more challenging than I would have thought, and consensus is eluding us. I've said my piece on this for now, and will just let that stand.

In any event, the next challenge will be to look at it again in a few weeks or months and see whether reliable sources have been found to justify this rather novel and unique usage of the term "scarcity" as applied to asteroid mining. As it stands now, it is unsourced, and I have challenged it in the article. N2e (talk) 19:52, 18 December 2014 (UTC)

What new usage of the term? I've used it as defined here and in the article about it. --JorisvS (talk) 19:55, 18 December 2014 (UTC)
The way your revert to the article is using the term scarcity is incorrect. Moreover, the idea that "scarcity will be eliminated ..." is just plain not true, in any scenario, currently theorized or in practice, relative to asteroids. With your understanding, you would fail the scarcity part of the exam in any Econ 101 class.
However, seeing that no consensus seemed imminent here on the Talk page where I opened this BRD a few days ago, I've simply stepped back and don't choose to argue with you about that point. Instead, we will just see if sources can be found to support several related statements in the article. If not, they will be removed from the article per WP:V in due time, rather than from any consensus on the BRD of how to use the notion of economic "scarcity" correctly in the English Wikipedia.
Scarcity as defined here and in its article ("the fundamental economic problem of having seemingly unlimited human wants in a world of limited resources. It states that society has insufficient productive resources to fulfill all human wants and needs.") will be eliminated by large-scale asteroid mining combined with exponential advancements in technology. There is "seemingly" in that definition: human wants and needs are seemingly unlimited (but not actually so). They only seem unlimited because of the traditional lack of capability to surpass them. It's the latter that will change. If "scarcity" is not properly defined here, then that could change a lot, though. --JorisvS (talk) 10:06, 19 December 2014 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────No, scarcity will not be eliminated. If you think that, you just don't know what scarcity means. And do note, this entire section is in a section of the article entitled "Economics"; so what the economic definition of that term is is important. Scarcity is not about how much stuff there is, it is about what stuff might be of interest to humans as economic actors, and at what opportunity cost it is useful to human endeavors, whether there is a lot of stuff, or rather less stuff, in the environs that humans frequent.

As someone smarter than me once said: "You are entitled to your own opinion, but you are not entitled to your own facts." If we anthropomorphize economics we could say "Economics" doesn't care about your opinion; what are your facts?

Or another way to think about it is, as the economist Walter Williams taught me in graduate school: "Reality is not optional!" We might want scarcity to be eliminated. But it won't be. There is always a cost associated with every action, and picking up asteroidal resources in the vacuum of space is no exception to that reality.

But I'm not going to keep arguing with you here. Ultimately, all those unsourced claims in the article will be sourced, or they won't be. If they are not, then they will not be able to stay in the article over the long term. Let's talk again in a month or two and see if any sources have been found to support all those claims. N2e (talk) 01:09, 21 December 2014 (UTC)

Then fix the definition, especially in the article about it. You're claiming it's wrong. Do note that we have post-scarcity economy, though. --JorisvS (talk) 10:55, 21 December 2014 (UTC)
JorisvS wrote: "Mining them [asteroids] is in many ways easier than mining on Earth, because it can be done in the clean vacuum of space with abundant free energy and without any gravity bothering the miner..." These seem to be just the opinions of JorisvS about something that has not actually been demonstrated. If mining the asteroids were easier than mining on Earth, someone would be doing it. Since no one mines asteroids, it is evidently not easy. Vacuum has some useful properties for mining and industry but detrimental properties as well. It causes lubricants to dry up and causes dust particles to retain electrical charge from the solar wind and other sources. The constant sunlight has UV components that can cause statically charged dust particles to jump off surfaces and fly about. This combination of dust and vacuum requires equipment specifically designed to work in that environment. Up until now this has not been done to the extent of having a machine last for a year or more on the moon. There are no references that I know of to indicate that this problem should be absent from asteroids. The lack of gravity means that if one tries to shovel ore into a spaceship's hold ore will fly off of the shovel instead and any bit that happen to get herded into the hold will likely bounce around and fly out again.
As of 24 August 2012 The Office of the Chief Technologist in assessment of the Robotic Asteroid Prospector project said that "The expected outcomes of this project include: ... Design concepts for the microgravity and vacuum prospecting, extraction, and ore processing system."
(In other words, they do not know how it will be done yet.)
I consider JorisvS unjustified in claiming that something that no one knows how to do is easy in any way. When mining asteroids is accomplished, we can determine the cost and scarcity of what it produces. Until then claims that there is a potential for unlimited resources are WP:OR. - Fartherred (talk) 17:13, 18 May 2015 (UTC)
I didn't claim it was easier, only in 'many ways', most prominently that the targets can be studied from very far away, even Earth orbit. There are, indeed, also difficulties associated with it, most prominently that launching the necessary equipment into space is (still) extremely expensive, but you correctly mention some others. Nevertheless, mining (below) the deep sea has many difficulties of its own, with the extreme pressures and that the targets must be studied from up close, yet it is done despite those. The most important difference between those two is currently that the technologies required for deep-sea mining have been development, whereas they are still in the early stages of development for asteroid mining.
All 'my' claims come from people involved in Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries and are publicly available, so they are not OR. --JorisvS (talk) 17:29, 18 May 2015 (UTC)
At 18:49 hours on the 17th of December 2014, above in this thread you posted exactly what I quoted. I do not know how it can help your argument to contradict yourself. You write that the technologies are in the early stages of development for asteroid mining. That is the very reason that you can not claim that asteroid mining could eliminate scarcity for resources. How could we know how the development will turn out?
To find out what resources the article refers to, I look to the lead section where it states: "Materials that could be mined or extracted include iron, nickel, titanium for construction, water, and oxygen..." The troublesome statement lacking a citation in the scarcity section is: "...the relative abundance of asteroidal ore gives asteroid mining the potential to provide nearly unlimited resources, which could practically eliminate scarcity for those materials." Now if you mean there will be no scarcity of looking at asteroidal ore with telescopes, you were editing the wrong article. In the Astronomy article there is a section on specific subfields. You could open a section on observation of asteroids. Scarcity in a practical sense means that you can not get as much of the refined material in your warehouse as you might want, no matter how much ore is visible in a telescope. If you want to support the statement lacking citation with statements by Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries, I might point out that these entities have a conflict of interest. They cannot be considered as having a neutral point of view, so their support for a statement could be identified as coming from them. Contrary sources might also be cited to preserve a WP:NPOV for the article. What are the specific statements the these organizations produced? - Fartherred (talk) 22:18, 18 May 2015 (UTC)
Better yet, where are the supporting statements from Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries. I could read them myself without you violating the copyright by reproducing the exact words here. - Fartherred (talk) 00:32, 19 May 2015 (UTC)
Note the word "could": it is a simple matter of understanding how much raw material there is in even a single smallish NEO (and how many of those are out there) compared to how much we've been using to understand that it could become a game changer. These companies just want to try to go out there and mine all those raw materials because they understand that if they succeed they change the world (and get rich in the process). And I don't copy-paste text, never ever. And don't take those companies' word for it, but look further; Mining the Sky says this exactly already in the preface at page xi: "The truth is that the resources available to us are, for all practical purposes, infinite.". --JorisvS (talk) 09:44, 19 May 2015 (UTC)
I think that we are making progress toward a consensus. Mining the Sky could be used as a citation for the unlimited resources terminology. Since Professor Lewis is admittedly an advocate of asteroid mining and unafraid of using superlatives in description, we could balance that with a statement about NASA's primitive position with regard to asteroid mining technology backed by the reference I gave from NASA's Office of the Chief Technologist. People might assume that others have better plans than NASA admits to, but an asteroid mining venture going bust should be something readers are left to consider as a possibility.
I have sympathy for N2e's use of the term scarcity as economists would use it. I took some economics classes on my way to my bachelor's degree in engineering. TREKphiler also has a point that average readers of Wikipedia might understand the term to mean such a lack of something as will cause a hardship. About the only resource that I think economists would not consider scarce would be air before the industrial revolution. It is scarce now because people can not use it to dump smoke in as much as they might want. It should be stated that platinum group metals will still have high prices after successful asteroid mining has begun, because otherwise the mining companies would not be getting rich.
Mining companies might want space law to give them property rights to an asteroid for as long as they care to mine it and no responsibility for the tailings heaps they leave behind. Others might want mining companies regulated like ATT was regulated before it was broken up. Whatever the case the article could give us some indication of the progress of space law if there is any progress to report.
What do you think? Is there any chance that the article can move forward? - Fartherred (talk) 23:03, 19 May 2015 (UTC)
There is one more point: "...which could practically eliminate scarcity for those materials." is one possibility if asteroid mining is practically possible given the current state of human technology; and which couldn't practically eliminate scarcity for those materials is another possibility if asteroid mining is practically impossible given the current state of human technology. Stating the former and not the latter should be supported by a reference that asteroid mining is practically possible. - Fartherred (talk) 23:23, 19 May 2015 (UTC)
Let me put this more plainly. I do not know whether the investors in Planetary Resources are wise and likely to make a bunch of money or they are not wise and likely to loose all that they have invested. The article addresses the question of what ores are available in asteroids but does not at all address the question of whether it is possible to mine those ores at a profit. Professor Lewis is a professor of planetary science, not of space technology. He can not be expected to have a professional opinion on whether the mining of asteroids is possible. The article is defective in not addressing the question or at least making it plain that any profit suggested for mining asteroids is completely dependent upon that mining operation being possible. I have my own idea of what would be necessary for economic mining of the asteroids, but I cannot put OR into Wikipedia. - Fartherred (talk) 01:28, 20 May 2015 (UTC)
We should certainly include NASA's statements about it; it wouldn't be complete without. And a mining operation going bust is, of course, a serious possibility. A mining company can make money in other ways than directly from the mining operations. People from Planetary Resources have said somewhere that they're already making a profit. "Scarcity" appears to have multiple distinct meanings, aside from a synonym for "rarity", there is the one as defined in that article (which can be eliminated), and maybe an even more stringent version used in economics. From discussing this with you, I think we should be able to work out something neutral. I'll try to find something that says something about the feasibility of the technology necessary for asteroid mining later. --JorisvS (talk) 10:17, 20 May 2015 (UTC)
There is no scarcity of volunteer work available for us. - Fartherred (talk) 13:08, 20 May 2015 (UTC)
That's quite right! --JorisvS (talk) 16:04, 20 May 2015 (UTC)

Destination...[edit]

Why doesn't anyone seem to mention that the most obvious reason to mine an asteroid isn't to bring it back to the surface of the Earth, but to move the material to some location either in orbit around the earth or moon where it can be utilized there. The economics are not in the availability of rare or valuable products, but simply the savings of not needing to launch say several thousand tons of steel to build space stations and ships. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 73.52.113.7 (talk) 02:53, 27 March 2015 (UTC)

Were self-replicating machines demonstrated?[edit]

Where does the editor who wrote this get a one month doubling time and a one kilogram mass for a self-replicating machine instead of a two year doubling time and 100 tons of manufacturing equipment made to endure the outer space environment. It seems likely WP:OR to me. - Fartherred (talk) 21:25, 13 April 2015 (UTC)

It has been five days now and no one has provided a citation for what seems to be WP:OR. It has been four years since Siafu deleted the same uncited text on the 11th of November 2010 at 18:07 hours. That is time enough. Do not replace 1 kilogram self replicating machine comments in article without a reference. - Fartherred (talk) 14:47, 18 April 2015 (UTC)

Replacing redirect with DAB page[edit]

Disruptive links to the redirect, Economics of extraterrestrial resource extraction, have been removed from Colonization of the Moon, Colonization of Mars, and Space habitat. I have suggested to the author of the redirect, User:N2e, that the redirect itself should be deleted but he would not cooperate making that process more difficult. So instead I would like to convert the redirect into a DAB page in which readers can choose an article as they wish for information about the economics of extraterrestrial resource extraction: Colonization of the Moon#Economic development, Colonization of Mars#Economics, or Asteroid mining#Economics. I offer a link to my concept of the page at Talk:Economics of extraterrestrial resource extraction. Check it out and comment if you like. - Fartherred (talk) 09:23, 20 April 2015 (UTC)

Rather, it looks very much like a topic for a separate encyclopedic article, not just for a redirect or dab page. Sources won't be any problem. --JorisvS (talk) 08:44, 21 April 2015 (UTC)
If the title had been an article at the time the links were made, it would have been easy enough to find words and phrases that could be properly linked to it. If someone has the time to write the article, I approve. - Fartherred (talk) 14:44, 22 April 2015 (UTC)

Costs[edit]

[5] is that a good ref? Advanceddeepspacepropeller (talk) 08:58, 20 November 2015 (UTC)

I'd call Bloomberg News reliable. TREKphiler any time you're ready, Uhura 20:26, 20 November 2015 (UTC)

Assessment comment[edit]

The comment(s) below were originally left at Talk:Asteroid mining/Comments, and are posted here for posterity. Following several discussions in past years, these subpages are now deprecated. The comments may be irrelevant or outdated; if so, please feel free to remove this section.

Last edited at 19:07, 1 October 2008 (UTC). Substituted at 08:28, 29 April 2016 (UTC)

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Aliens[edit]

The last sentence in the "Purpose" reads: "Why extraterrestrials would have resorted to asteroid mining in near proximity to earth, with its readily available resources, has not been explained." Any space creatures (i.e. anyone who has gotten off of a planet and into space and has acquired the materials/skills/technology to survive there permanently) are going to be loathe to land on a planet. The energy and material costs are just too high. And they might not be extraterrestrials. Humans have been around long enough that we could have developed a space faring civilization in the distant past. You might think that if such a thing had happened there would be some evidence of it, but remember, absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. Pergelator 50.43.36.155 (talk) 22:18, 5 September 2016 (UTC)

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