Today I have read an article in one of the dailies, which I would like to share with Expertscolumn members. The article is about the exciting possibility of extracting precious metals like plutonium by mining, from the asteroids, that pass by the earth. What appears as science fiction today is sought to be converted into reality in a decade from now.A company namely Planetory Resources Inc. is going to announce its plans to mine asteroids for, say, platinum metal. The company has already attracted investment from Google's Larry Page and Eric Schmidt and investors like Roes Perot,and Charles Simonyi, former Chief software architectat Microsoft. James D Cameron, the filmmaker and deep sea adventurer is an advisor to the company.
How does the company plan to mine the asteroids?
Well, an asteroid lacks air and its gravitational pull is negligible,which makes it relatively easy to land a spacecraft ,unlike landing on the moon or Mars. The company proposes to land a robotic mining spacecraft on the asteroid. It is estimated that there are around 1,500 asteroids near to the earth.
The robotic mining spacecrafts, a number of them,can work together and grind pieces of the asteroid followed by smelting it to capture the precious metals inside and then transport it to earth.
The foundersof the Planetory Resources namely,Eric C. Andersoin and Peter H.Diamandis are already into space business. Their existing company Space Adventures has arranged so far eight trips to the International Space Station for space tourists.
The new company plans to launch the first spacecraft within the next two years,to locate nearby small asteroids. It will be followed by sending batch of small explorers to to some of them.The actual mining would begin later on for precious metals like plutonium and water if it is there.
It is intresting to note that, in 1926, the Russian scientist Konstantin Tsiolkovsky,had concieved the colonisation of aestriods. Since then a number of ventures have been announced for space mining, but have failed. However it is claimed that Planetory Resources has a better chance to succeed because it has adequate technical and financial resources available.
We shall keenly watch this space mining plan venture and wish it all the best.Truly a revolutionary idea sought to be converted into a reality.