The scientists said that prevents the extraction of minerals on asteroids

© Photo : EATC the artist imagined European mission AIM at the asteroid DidimThe scientists said that prevents the extraction of minerals on asteroids© Photos : ESA

. Mining on asteroids will be possible only after scientists begin to better understand the behavior of small celestial bodies and make a list of the relatively slow objects, where the probes»miners» will be able to fly, said the group of 30 astronomers, speakers at the conference planetological EPSC in Riga.

«Mining asteroids is a wonderful mix of science, engineering, entrepreneurship and imagination. The problem, on the other hand, is that this is another young science in which every new discovery brings more questions than answers,» said Jose Galache (Jose Galache), a planetary scientist from Harvard (USA).

Now to mine resources on asteroids intend to two commercial companies — Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries. The first has already launched a few test machines, spent part of a capture of asteroids in late 2014 and early 2015. In cooperation with NASA, DSI develops its technologies of capture of small celestial bodies in the framework of the project on the prevention of the risk of collision to the Ground.

These projects have already attracted the attention of the governments of the United States and Luxembourg – American Congress recently lifted all restrictions related to the extraction of resources in space, and the authorities of Luxembourg announced its readiness to support such initiatives financially.

The rapid development of such plans, as told to Halacha faced businessmen and scholars question – where and how to gather resources in space? Last year, 30 leading scientists, engineers, and geologists listened to the requests of DSI and Planetary Resources and tried to evaluate how such initiatives are feasible and, if so, where they can best be implemented.

The main conclusion of scientists is that to implement such projects possible in principle, however, now make it extremely difficult because of the huge number of «white spots» in the Sciences related to the study of the behavior of asteroids.

For example, the lion’s share of near-earth asteroids that are potentially of commercial interest or threat to such projects, remains unknown to science, and their origin. In addition, now scientists do not have reliable tools for determining the chemical composition of asteroids and their structure, which is extremely important in the context of mining for them.

An even more serious problem lies in the fact that while physicists do not know how to behave in the bulk material in the absence of gravity or microgravity. Many asteroids and comets, as noted by Halacha, consists of sticky grains of dust and ice particles, and the attempt to drill the surface can result in an avalanche or other «natural disasters» that can damage or destroy the robot-«Shakhtar».

All of these problems, as the authors of the report need to be addressed before the space startups will be able to start mining in space. Many of them are fundamental, and only the support of science and the scientific study of asteroids with probes such as «Hayabusa-2» and OSIRIS-REx, will allow to solve this problem.

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