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Uses of asteroids?

  1. May 2, 2008 #1
    I just read that asteroids have uses? I was simply stunned.I always thought them to be killers from space!It has been suggested that the asteroids might be used in the future as a source of materials which may be rare or exhausted on earth or materials for constructing space habitats! Materials that are heavy and expensive to launch from Earth may someday be mined from asteroids and used for space manufacturing and construction.What's your take on this?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 2, 2008 #2
    I don't think there would be much use from them, as they are mostly carbon. Not to mention the resources that would be required to retrieve what metals would not be efficient.
  4. May 2, 2008 #3


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    They also contain a lot of metals.
    They were formed out of the same stuff as the Earth except the metals haven't oxidised to you can mine pure iron / nickel etc from them.

    And with added advantage that you don't have to lift them out of the gravity well of a planet - still a long way off from being a practical operation!
  5. May 2, 2008 #4
    I don't know! That's what I read. But constructing space habitats from materials that's had the capacity to move without having problems due to the gravitational force sounds quite appealing to me!
  6. May 2, 2008 #5


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    One plan is to actually construct a habitat within a large asteroid. As a mining colony digs the insides out of an asteroid for use on other things, the asteroid itself becomes a large, air-tight (if dug properly), hollow space. Pump in an atmosphere, spin the thing to simulate gravity, and people could live inside it. It should be cheaper than building a station of comperable size.
  7. May 2, 2008 #6
    That was exactly something I was thinking about.( Well,not exactly!) But sounds good.Instead of floating around in space we could stand....like humans should!
  8. May 2, 2008 #7


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    Asteroids aren't big enough to have any serious gravity.
    They also aren't necessarily structurally sound or solid.

    Planets form because gas/dust/stuff collects and under it's own gravity gets pulled together and melts under the heat and pressure - that's also why planets are round.
    Only the largest asteroids look like the tradiational rock that fleeing star wars heros can hide in, most of them are just clouds of pebbles held together with ice and are constantly melting and reforming.
  9. May 2, 2008 #8
    I just thought, maybe it's thinking too far into the future... Maybe? But I guess they could be a good resource source for space stations and other settlements/bases off of earth.
  10. May 5, 2008 #9


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    The idea of mining asteroids has been one of many topics discussed at some conferences for the last two decades (e.g. STAIF) and perhaps longer. During the 1980's, during period when NASA was seriously considering missions to Mars, mining asteroids was also seriously considered.

    Since then it's more or less on the back burner.

    Here is some information on composition - http://www.psrd.hawaii.edu/Feb02/eros.html

    Here is an ESA page - Asteroids: Structure and composition of asteroids
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