Why We Should Mine the Moon Before Asteroids

The moon is closer, we can get there faster, lunar missions are less risky and equipped with better technology. The company MoonEx has been planning lunar mining with NASA for years.

What's the Latest Development?


The space start up Planetary Resources made headlines last month when it announced its intention to mine asteroids for water and precious metals. But a closer target--the moon--has been the focus of another space mining company, named MoonEx, for years. The Google Lunar X Prize contender is currently developing a lunar landing system for NASA which could launch as early as 2014. While mining asteroids is perhaps the bolder vision, mining the moon in the meantime makes good sense because of its proximity, shorter time horizon and the availability of current technology. 

What's the Big Idea?

The promise of near-infinite mineral resources in space promises to alleviate long-term concerns over our planet's resource scarcity. Proponents of asteroid mining say that harvesting water from space rocks could hydrate humans in base-based living quarters and help create an interplanetary fuel chain by using water's hydrogen to propel ships. Whatever happens, the business equation for space-based enterprises is set to move away from measuring space technology spinoffs, such as Velcro shoes, to creating entirely new and self-sustaining economies.

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3D printing might save your life one day. It's transforming medicine and health care.

What can 3D printing do for medicine? The "sky is the limit," says Northwell Health researcher Dr. Todd Goldstein.

Northwell Health
Sponsored by Northwell Health
  • Medical professionals are currently using 3D printers to create prosthetics and patient-specific organ models that doctors can use to prepare for surgery.
  • Eventually, scientists hope to print patient-specific organs that can be transplanted safely into the human body.
  • Northwell Health, New York State's largest health care provider, is pioneering 3D printing in medicine in three key ways.
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Big Think Edge
  • In some fundamental ways, humans haven't changed all that much since the days when we were sitting around communal fires, telling tales.
  • Although we don't always recognize them as such, stories, symbols, and rituals still have tremendous, primal power to move us and shape our lives.
  • This is no less true in the workplace than it is in our personal lives.

Has a black hole made of sound confirmed Hawking radiation?

One of Stephen Hawking's predictions seems to have been borne out in a man-made "black hole".

Image source: NASA/JPL-Caltech
Surprising Science
  • Stephen Hawking predicted virtual particles splitting in two from the gravitational pull of black holes.
  • Black holes, he also said, would eventually evaporate due to the absorption of negatively charged virtual particles.
  • A scientist has built a black hole analogue based on sound instead of light.
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Big Think Edge
  • The word "creative" is sometimes waved around like a badge of honor. We speak of creativity in hushed tones, as the special province of the "talented". In reality, the creative process is messy, open, and vulnerable.
  • For this reason, creativity is often at its best in a group setting like brainstorming. But in order to work, the group creative process needs to be led by someone who understands it.
  • This sense of deep trust—that no idea is too silly, that every creative impulse is worth voicing and considering—is essential to producing great work.