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When you hear about all this asteroid mining crap, it
irritating because there's no profit to be made off
bringing asteroid ore to the surface of the planet---no
matter how concentrated it may be. A pure golden goose
egg asteroid could not profitably be brought back to
even if it did exist. But people are in
love with the idea of space hotels or space stations on
the moon. So you need stuff to build them with, and
getting the stuff there is so expensive that it would
require materials mined in outerspace and/or the moon.
So if you're willing to entertain the delusion of giant
space and moon stations and massive fuel depots and
other depots in orbital or outerspace---you must think
seriously about it.
So for space stations of the future, its asteroids and or
moon. But I say, why not both?!
My answer is that the best way to do it is to base the
mining/processing equipment on the moon, at the base
a space elevator. Asteroids can be crashed or lowered
the moon. In addition, extremely large deposits of many
many impacted asteroids over a billion year are below
moons existing surface. You mine and process as needed
the moon. When necessary you can use the space
to put mass back in lunar orbit. From there, you can
it easily to earth orbit or to mars.
The idea of processing asteroids in a mother-center
location makes sense. It does NOT make sense to sell
idea of processing them in orbit, or on site. Processing
centers are large. A lot larger than the ISS. They should
When you get serious about looking for large in tact
asteroids closest to earths surface ---where we live.
It becomes apparent they are just below the moons
While large asteroids have impacted earths surface,
terrestrial geological processes have rusted, diluted, and
subducted these asteroid bodies to the point where
finding and mining them is difficult if not impossible.
Most of the really big ones are actually under large
depths of water , making it even more difficult to mine
Whatever may be left of them ( which may be not very
much at all if anything ) . The moon --on the other hand
leaves asteroids intact and just below the moons
surface. Not very deep at all. I estimate at most when
look at the estimated thickness of the moon's Maria, and
the highest mountain being 4km in height above the
lowest lowland ( the Maria ) . Its just not really likely a
single one of the massive asteroid impactors on the
is under more than 500 meters of boulders and regolith.
over billions of years of the moons
existence, large asteroids have struck the moon and are
lying just under the moons surface, relatively intact and
These asteroids are mostly identified through their
mass concentration (mascon ) signatures that are
out as a result of gravity mapping of the moon for the
purpose of orbital insertion and near space navigation .
It turns out our already highly details mascon maps of
moons surface would be a perfect guide for mining
asteroids on the moon. Just go to the site of mascon and
start digging .
So now, if you want to mine asteroids---the best place to
do that --is on the moon!
Finally, if you read the comments section you will see
some debate about the merits of mining free-floating
asteroids passing by earth, versus mining the moon for
sublunar surface asteroids----however
One of the bonuses of mining the moon for mass and
material that is needed to be placed in orbit ( of the
or of earth or of the sun ) ----is that it would dovetail
with the first planned space elevator. You could use the
planned 'liftport' lunar space elevator to lift lunar mass
into lunar orbit without the use of fuel. Whereas
rockets requires fuel ( asteroid miners make the
science fiction presumption that asteroids will have the
right mass for turning into fuel easily and can thus
maneuver as needed by scavenging. )
AND FINALLY the moon has been discussed as a 'home'
graveyard for directing floating target asteroids. Once
are crashed or lowered to the moon by space elevator,
They can be stored on the moon at NO cost, without any
corrosion UNTIL they need to be mined. The mass can be
transported to the mining/processing station at the base
the lunar space elevator.
lunar space elevator
liftport space elevator can be used to move lots of kilotonns of mass to lunar orbit without fuel on an industrial scale. [teslaberry, Feb 02 2014]
a stable home for redirecting asteroids
moon as home for asteroids. [teslaberry, Feb 02 2014]
moon cratering and asteroids below the surface
moon surface asteroids [teslaberry, Feb 02 2014]
the map of mascons [teslaberry, Feb 02 2014]
lunar crater isostatic formation
impact craters formation [teslaberry, Feb 02 2014]
mining the moon revisted
lunar mining. [teslaberry, Feb 02 2014]
gravity of the moon
just a nice little map. cannot beat wiki [teslaberry, Feb 02 2014]
||[+], and what [FleigendeBrattenhurd] said, and whot's a
||//looking for large in tact asteroids//
||thesE woulD bE asteroidS thaT makE gentlE enquirieS
||You do realize that asteroids routinely pass inside
the moon's orbit, right? In fact, many of them
impact the atmosphere on a regular basis. And
while the majority are small, larger ones can be
found there as well.
||It's also much easier to reposition an asteroid than
it is a to lift a meteorite from the moon's surface.
The former can be done with a small ion engine
that uses the waste portions of the asteroid for
reaction mass, the former requires a significant
rocket engine, fueled with volatiles you can't
actually find on the moon, so you have to import
||Put simply, you're not the first to think of this,
and the others have put a lot more time into
actually figuring out the ROI than you did.
||[MechE], tsk, tsk, you are forgetting the usefulness
on the Moon of "electromagnetic launchers", since
there is no air resistance. And solar power is widely
available on the Moon, too. All it needs is a world-
girdling set of transmission lines, and any place could
have solar power almost 100% of the time*.
||*the exceptions being when the Earth gets in-
between the Sun and the Moon, not very often, and
only for a few hours at a time.
||MECHE --no, mining and processing an asteroid
have existing technologies that can easily be reused
in low gravity situations similar to earths own.
mining an asteroid in almost zero gravity
conditions, let alone processing it using high
amounts of heat ---where the heat cannot
disspitate in ordinary means requires MASSIVE NEW
TECHNOLOGICAL INVESTMENT. to be made. gravity is
||but please send me links of any detailed porposals
of locating mascons for mining on the moon.
||FURTHERMORE. THE EXISTING NUMBER OF STATIC
BURIED MASCONS ON THE MOON measured in
kilograms---CAN BE EXPLOITED far more quickly and
cheaply using less fuel and energy than by WAITING
for the random asteroid that passes by now and
then and attempting to match speed with it while
you mine it. or attempting to change its orbit
around earth, which is expensive. moon mass---of
cumulative asteroids of BILLIONS OF YEARS of strikes
is extremely high. and just because the moon has a
delta-V that is relatively high compared to a free
floating asteroid, does not mean the delta V has no
advantages to a free floating asteroid. the delta V is
useful for deployment of existing mining and
processing technology . it's also useful because you
can keep the mined materials in static location
until you need them. there are indeed graveyard
orbits, but even those aren't perfectly stable and
any 'way station' orbit for mined mass in space will
require more fuel than a storage depot on the
moon to maintain its stability.
||MAXWELL you can go online and actually just read a
bunch about people who have published detailed
analysis about moon impacting asteroids. the
mascons are SIGNIFICANT and they are the remnants
of the asteroid.
||of course, much of what you see on the moon is a
mixture of impacted dustified moon dust with
HIGHLY diluted asteroid and micrometeriod we call
regolith. regolith is almost ALL moon. which means
a mostly earth like soil composition of oxygen,
silicon and the other soft metals---magnesium iron
calcium titanium etc....
the lunar lowlands have more iron and high lands
more soft stuff.
so YES you can find a large amount of asteroid mass
BELOW the surfact of the moon at the site of
impact. even though you are correct in assuming
much (but not all) of the asteroid is incinerated
||the ACTUAL issue underlying the reason the moon is
very attractive for mining asteroids is that its
surface is dead of all tectonic hydrologic atmosperic
and other processes that could affect a buried
asteroid. the very surface surfac tof the moon is
bombarded by high energy particles and this is the
last remaining process of 'change' that affects all
astronomical bodies that have lost their surface
atomsphere and hydrosphere. this is aptly called
'space weathering' and space weathering has not
really affected the subsurface mascon asteroid mass
on the moon. whereas , on the earth geologic
biologic hyrologic and other processes have
basically dissolved and diluted and or buried very
deeply most all remnants of asteroids.
||the moon is a repository of old asteroids. the earth
simply amalgamates them into itself . in this way---
the earth is more sophisticated and complex. and
ALIVE in an asto-cosmological mother gaei kind of
||Um, every heat dissipation problem in orbit is also
found on the moon's surface. The only advantage
on earth is atmosphere, which neither of the
former have. And that's generally applicable.
There are very few terrestrial techniques that
would apply to a low gravity, no atmosphere
environment that wouldn't also apply to a
||Likewise, asteroid mining schemes are generally
figured in tonnes, or kilotonnes. Not the kilograms
of intact mass you are talking about. Again, the
economics are relatively easy to figure out, and
they money boys are chasing asteroids, not the
||i'm saying they should be chasing the large number
of asteroids that are ON the moon.
||they money boys be full of shit , no one with real
money is investing in these hairbrained bulshit
ideas of mining in space, let alone mining under
water ( which there are a couple projects working
on this ) mining on land is where its at still and for
the coming future.
||however---- if you are going to mine asteroids.
theyre on the moon.
||There's a moon in the sky
It's called the moon
And everybody is there, including,
The Van Allen Belt
||Roll-roll-roll-roll-rollin' in Andromeda
||There's too many rings---This is the Space Age
There's too many things---This is the Space Age
Just ain't no atmosphere tonight
||If you're lucky you get to ride in a gold meteorite
If you're not, you get a mouth, a mouthful of red Kryptonite
You better move over
Here comes a Super-nova
Kryptonite- - -
If you're in outer space
Don't feel out of place
'cause there are thousands of others like you
Others like you
Others like you
||Well there's a moon, it's in the sky
It's called the moon
And everybody is there 'cluding
||Many gamma rays around it
Van Allen Belt surrounds it
This is the Space Age
Please don't worry
This is the Space Age
Just don't worry
This is the Space Age
Others like you
||//It's also much easier to reposition an asteroid than it is a to lift a meteorite from the moon's surface.//
||See, I didn't get that from the original idea. Do we need to ferry tonnes of minerals back to Earth? We have enough material here already to make do. Seriously, why would we payload back to Earth the heaviest possible substances, aka, mineral ore or even refined metals? It sounds like a massive waste of resources.
||The long view has the products of space mining used in space, for ships, stations, and Dyson whatevers. Sending mining products back to Earth is a red hearing. If you absolutely positively need the resources down here, then build the finished products on the moon and ferry those down, as they're bound to be lighter than slabs of metal.
||The moon has ore in mascons and also has a vast work area, complete with gravity. Pollution is practically a non-issue. So, we don't have to vastly reinvent mining techniques to go after asteroids, we just apply a 1/6 factor and use the moon. Ask any astronaut, working in zero gravity is tricky. The moon's 1/6 gravity is probably pretty freakin useful for mining and industrial fabrication.
||So, aside from bunning this idea, I propose that we abide by the principle that space materials stay in space, and we suffice with what the Earth already has for purposes here. This saves energy and promotes space exploration/colonization.
||//we could send out small spacecraft to latch onto large asteroids directing them back to earth where mining is easier.//
||So, giant hunks of rock falling from the sky AND more open pit mines?
||Not to dispute that the money going toward asteroid mining may (or may not) indicate that it has better ROI, but I do agree with [teslaberry] that lunar mining methods could be much more similar to terrestrial mining method than asteroid methods would be.
||On the moon, your tools and any materieals you chip off won't go flying away. You might need some extra ballast to be able to get the same amount of downforce that you would get on earth, but that can be obtained locally.
||On the asteroid you'll need some system to hold the tools in contact with the asteroid yet still allow moving around. You'll also need a good way to collect the material that is mined. You may be able to take advantage of the microgravity in some ways, but it seems like many tools will need to be completely reinvented.
||If you want to crush up the material then sort it by density, having some gravity will make that material handling equipment much more traditional and you'll be able to separate by density without using a centrifuge.
||Cooling will not be a trivial problem for either case, but it seem like there would be a lot more options on the moon. On the moon there may be some limited quantities of ice and/or water to be had locally. There are large areas of relatively flat smooth surface covered presumably with easily diggable material whereas the astoreoid will likely be entirely composed of hard materials. Maybe a cooling loops could be installed in the ground. Maybe we coudl just scoop up large piles of moon dust that has been in the shade, transfer the heat into this dust, then dump it back in the shade until it cools again.
||I disagree, but it partly depends on what your are
mining and how. One major concern is that almost
all extant mining equipment is combustion
powered. Which has obvious limitations on the
moon. Second, most mining equipment has
hydraulic components. Those don't do so well in
alternating temperature extremes every 14 days.
Also, are we talking about human miners, or
robotic ones, because I can make cases for both
having advantages in micro-g, but the advantages
And it is completely possible to sort by density
without gravity. First, crush to a uniform size,
and then push the components with a uniform
force. They will follow different trajectories
based on density. This is one of the techniques
used to separate recycling on earth, where an air
blast serves to provide the force. Only problem is,
on earth, it can only be done coarsely.
||Finally, asteroid have one major advantage. You
don't really have to mine them. The ones that
would be targeted represent relatively pure
chunks of nickel-iron. You basically start at the
ore crushing step, and work through refining from
||I also second what [the porpoise] said.
||Although I think the idea behind asteroid mining is that we hope to find large quantities of very valuable minerals like gold and platinum that would make it worthwhile. While some of those could be useful for construction in space, (a spacecraft build of 1/4" sheet gold instead of sheet steal would look rather nice) because of our tendency to hoard gold as a currency, it may seem economically worthwhile to bring it down to earth instead.
||Hmm, if we're using it as a currency stockpile, maybe we should just leave it on the moon. That will make it much more difficult to steal too. For an individual, that won't make sense because there is no possibility of getting it in case of economic collapse, but it could make sense for a nation's gold reserves.
||Going out to space to find currency seems a bit like arriving at a virgin planet and immediately deforesting the place by collecting leaves for use as currency.
||mined materials in space will be used IN SPACE> no
one is even arguing about that any more.
||mining materials on the moon can stay there, or
be transported to space.
||depending on the existing trajectory of an
asteroid----you will require various amounts of
energy to redirect it. you cannot know how much
energy, because you cannot knwo which asteroids
you will mine until you prospect them. while you
look for the perfect asteroid from a distance. you
will always have to travel up close to see the
internal makeup. some people are focussing on the
1 in a million asteroid that is actually an intact
piece of a former planetismal CORE and is like a
giant valuable metal crystal. yes ---those cna be
incredibly valuable, but also rare, and not
||mining those will be like treasure hunting for the
choicest asteorids. and you don't know where and
in which directions and speed sthey will be going.
||on the moon, you have a whole collection of many
asteroids you can inspect. they are all static with
respect to one another and with respect to you ,
and to any equipment you may use on them.
||they are also near large deposits of water ice on
the moon that can be used for processing.
||mining free floating asteroids compared to mining
the moonstroids is a joke, even if it is slightly
more costly to overcome the escape velocity delta
V required to get these final materials into free
space-------it is predictable and thus superior as a
business model for mining than the unpredictable
freefloating asteroid game of chance. you cannot
base a business model on that kind of
unpredictability---even with insurance.
||and i don't think too many companies will be
selling insurance on these types of risky
||You need large amounts of energy, but very little
power. A small solar panel does the trick. To lift
from the moon, you need much more power.
||Nukes on the moon would be welcome. Agree with
scad re use of the moonstuff as a heat sink.
||For a scifi premise there could be a lunar mining
endeavor in which new tech has located a
subsurface asteroid made of gold. Shady hit men
then in earnest start killing these scientists
because an asteroid full of gold would tank the
price of gold. When this gets out, gold tanks
anyway which it turns out was the main goal of the
moneymen behind the operation, who had no
intention of messing around on the moon. But the
asteroid is really there, and the last laugh is on the
moneymen who buy up all the earth gold when the
price tanks, and then are stuck with it when the
moon gold starts coming in and gold is as cheap as
||The concept of the moon as a deep freeze for space
objects is pretty sweet. You could go a lot of
directions with that.
||onE questioN abouT lunaR asteroidS. hoW deeplY
impacteD arE theY? iF yoU havE tO removE A
kilometrE oF overlyinG rocK, iT becomeS A lesS
||// When you get serious about looking for large in
tact asteroids closest to earths surface ---where
we live. It becomes apparent they are just below
the moons surface.//
||My recollection of long-ago astrophysics classes,
and a quick internet search, discredits this claim.
||In the 1970s and early 80s, I was taught the then
prevailing theory that nearly all lunar impactors
were completely vaporized. More recent theory,
backed by simulations and spectroscopic analysis
of the Moon, suggests that impacts above 14000
m/s completely vaporize the impactor, while
those below 12000 m/s leave much of the broken
remains of the impactor concentrated in the
central peak of the crater. Impactors from the
main asteroid belt, from where most are believed
to originate, range in impact speeds of 6000 to
16000 m/s. Accounting in detail, this suggests
that about 25% of craters contain much of the
remnants of their impactor not buried in a single
mass, but broken and scattered.
||That we find a lot (about 500,000 kg) of solid,
mostly iron meteorites shallowly buried on Earth,
rather than broken and scattered or vaporized, is
because atmospheric drag slows them to impact
speeds of only about 300 m/s. I cant think of a
natural mechanism that could allow such a low
speed impact on the airless Moon, so wouldnt
expect to find intact metallic impactors buried on
||// When you hear about all this asteroid mining
crap, it gets irritating because there's no profit to
be made off bringing asteroid ore to the surface of
the planet. //
||Lots of profit-oriented folk have concluded
otherwise sort of.
|| 3554 Amun, for example, is estimated (by John S.
Lewis ca 1997) to have about
US$20,000,000,000,000 (20 trillion) worth of
precious metal (mostly gold and platinum). The
main business problem with such a venture is not
naive return on investment (which, taking Lewiss
estimate of a $100,000,000,000 (100 billion) cost,
would give an enviable 200:1 ROI), but that such a
huge supply of precious metals would reduce their
market value so much it not only reduced the
ventures ROI, but might crash the value of
existing gold holdings, causing economic and
political catastrophy. Whether carefully supplying
the market over decades could keep the venture
profitable is controversial. Whether such
economic and political worries are founded is,
IMHO, more in the realm of soothsaying than
||#1 a solid gold asteroid is a solid lie. estimates are
sheer nonense. if you belive any of this nonsense,
i have a bridge to sell you.
||#2 your remarks about impactor speed and
vaporization are actually VERY thoughtfull. thank
you. I think this is very root of the question.
whetehr or not the moon is a good place to begin
as a base for processing asteroids, some of which
can RELIABLY be found in pieces on the moon.
arguably the impactors were mostly vaporized .
this too ahs some value. an thorough analysis of
crater ejecta could determine if if the
composition of whatever survived under the moon
surface is even worth mining. there undoubtedly
is PLENTY on the moon. it is gravity repository.
and no , on earth the surface processes of our
planet destroy meteor mass left over, while on the
moon they do not. all you need is a small
percentage of that mass to survive and you still
have a very large amount of mass comprised of
dense concentrated remnants of asteroids all in
one place on the moon.
||considering you can crash foreign space travelling
meteors on the moon without restrictions by
govenrments----or even lower them gently by
future lunar space elevator to the moons surface.
the moon offers huge options, and flexibility as
the first place to begin builiding a space mining
extraction and processing operation, as opposed
to freefloating space ships chasing asteroids in
order to do what with them? process them on
site? crash them into the earth?
return them to low earth orbit for why?
||no--the moon is the way to go. but the speed of
impactors is very important for making decisions
about which craters to explore on the moon.
thank you for that.
||talk of solid gold asteroids makes you sound like a
naive and under the spell of hucksters. so please,
be mindful of that too.
||No one said solid gold. But the estimates of
platinum group metals in metallic asteroids are
||Let me repeat this, since you have failed to grasp
You have not come up with anything new here.
Despite that, the interest is still in asteroid, not
lunar mining. The reason for that is that people
have worked through the relative difficulties, and
asteroid mining is by far the easier of the two.
Especially if you're talking about deliberately
crashing asteroids into the moon to mine, rather
than placing them in low or medium earth orbit.