Planetary Resources, the new space venture backed by Google and Microsoft founders that's planning to mine near-Earth asteroids, has begun advertising for 'asteroid miners'. The new company revealed details of its first exploratory missions to mine ice deposits as well as precious metals and minerals. The ice water could support life, or be split into oxygen and liquid hydrogen to make breathable air and rocket propellant, the firm says.
There are over 1,500 asteroids that are as easy to get to as the surface of the Moon. They are also in Earth-like orbits with small gravity fields, making them easier to approach and depart. Asteroid resources have some unique characteristics that make them especially attractive. Unlike Earth, where heavier metals are close to the core, metals in asteroids are distributed throughout their body, making them easier to extract.
We have been discovering thousands of asteroids that do not belong to the Main Belt --collected by Jupiter’s gravity into a belt between it and Mars-- but instead pass near Earth’s orbit – nearly 9,000 to date, with almost a thousand more discovered every year.
The Daily Galaxy via Planetary Resources Inc
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