If you’re out of gold, silver, or platinum, it’s always a good idea to search for them elsewhere in the Universe besides Earth. Did you ever imagine finding a whole asteroid or maybe even a planet made entirely of gold? This is what the European Space Agency (ESA) has in mind: mining asteroids for natural resources.
ESA wants to take the idea very seriously, although it would trigger laughter for some people. Members of the ESA’s planetary defense team have started to promote the Human Exploration Research Analog (Hera) mission.
Target: the Didymos binary asteroid system
A member of the ESA explained on Reddit:
“In fact, learning how we can process material we might find on asteroids or other planetary bodies is increasingly important, as it opens up the opportunities for sustainable exploration and commercialization.
“It’s a technology we need to master, and asteroids can be a great target for testing how we can create space mines.”
But there’s more to the project than initially planned. NASA and ESA are making great progress in their understanding of how to deflect an asteroid’s trajectory from a potential collision course with Earth.
A huge asteroid or comet measuring 11 to 81 kilometers (6.8 to 50.3 miles) in diameter hit the Earth about 60 million years ago, killing all dinosaurs and most of the remaining life forms. It is also known as the Chicxulub impactor, as it hit today’s Yucatan peninsula from Mexico. Most scientists believe that it’s only a matter of time until another asteroid about the same size will be on the same trajectory as the old one. Hopefully, on that impending day, humanity will have the right technology to be able to deal with the unwanted visitor efficiently.
‘Global killers’ or not, there’s a lot to gain after exploring space rocks that come nearby Earth. Either knowledge or natural resources, the Universe always has interesting insights to unfold to us.