The Economics Behind Mining Asteroids for Metals
A new company has been launched with the specific purpose of mining near-Earth asteroids for precious metals. Without massive technological advancement, however, the economics won't work.
What's the Latest Development?
Were it not for the list of extremely successful businessmen behind the recent announcement to mine asteroids for precious metals, the idea might be a laughing stock. But when Google executives and private space pioneers team up with James Cameron and the heir to Ross Perot's fortune, you really have to take the news seriously. Peter Diamandis, creator of the XPrize Foundation and co-founder the company charged with mining the asteroids, said: "A 30 meter asteroid can hold as much as $25 billion to $50 billion worth of platinum at today’s prices."
What's the Big Idea?
A look at the economics of the venture through the eyes of a financial investor demonstrates the massive technological advancements that must occur for the project to turn a profit. For a cost of $200 million, the Japanese Hayabusa Probe returned less than a gram of dust from the near-Earth asteroid 25143 Itokawa. Quoting research from two Barclays Capital commodities analysts: "Using Hayabusa as a base to calculate break-even prices, we estimate that the cost of gold needs to rise to about $6.2-billion per ounce troy to make asteroid mining economical."
Photo credit: Shutterstock.com
Swipe right to make the connections that could change your career.
Swipe right. Match. Meet over coffee or set up a call.
No, we aren't talking about Tinder. Introducing Shapr, a free app that helps people with synergistic professional goals and skill sets easily meet and collaborate.
A completely unexpected discovery beneath the ice.
- Scientists find remains of a tardigrade and crustaceans in a deep, frozen Antarctic lake.
- The creatures' origin is unknown, and further study is ongoing.
- Biology speaks up about Antarctica's history.
Bushier eyebrows are associated with higher levels of narcissism, according to new research.
- Science has provided an excellent clue for identifying the narcissists among us.
- Eyebrows are crucial to recognizing identities.
- The study provides insight into how we process faces and our latent ability to detect toxic people.
It's one factor that can help explain the religiosity gap.
- Sociologists have long observed a gap between the religiosity of men and women.
- A recent study used data from several national surveys to compare religiosity, risk-taking preferences and demographic information among more than 20,000 American adolescents.
- The results suggest that risk-taking preferences might partly explain the gender differences in religiosity.
SMARTER FASTER trademarks owned by The Big Think, Inc. All rights reserved.