February 15, 2013
Asteroid Mining Company’s Spacecraft Will Assist In Detecting Asteroids
[ Watch the Video: Asteroid 2012 DA14 To Whiz Past Earth Safely ]
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Planetary Resources, a company aimed at mining asteroids, says that its Arkyd-100 Series of spacecraft will be assisting in the detection and characterization of potentially hazardous asteroids near Earth.
About 610,000 asteroids are being tracked in the Solar System currently, which is a number that represents less than one percent of the estimated objects that orbit the Sun.
Scientists have been tracking about 434 asteroids that are both large enough and fly close enough to Earth to be a cause for concern. However, none of these asteroids pose any significant risk today.
“Our planet is orbiting in a swarm of small remnants from the formation of the Solar System. Some of these objects have orbits that either approach or even cross Earth´s orbit around the Sun. There are currently only 10,000 known near-Earth asteroids, with close to a million more that still need to be cataloged,” said Tom Jones, Ph.D., veteran NASA astronaut, planetary scientist and Planetary Resources advisor.
Friday, Asteroid 2012 DA14 will be making its pass by Earth at just about 17,200 miles, which is closer to us than our satellites that provides functions like television.
“2012 DA14 will be making history when it streaks past Earth. Surprisingly, it was only discovered last year. Asteroids, in addition to being extremely valuable for precious resources, can also be extremely dangerous,” said Eric Anderson, Co-Founder and Co-Chairman, Planetary Resources. “Knowing where the objects are, and having a comprehensive catalog of them, will be an indispensable asset for human civilization over the next several centuries.”
Back in January, Planetary Resources released a video of its full scale Arkyd-100 mechanical prototypes. This prototype is very small, and is able to cut the cost of deep space missions dramatically, which is a necessary feat to accomplish when wanting to mine asteroids for a profit.
The company said that it is creating its Arkyd-100 spacecraft to be one of the most advanced spacecraft per pound that exists today.
Earlier this week, another asteroid mining company, Deep Space Industries, said that this weekend's asteroid could potentially be worth as much as $195 billion in metals and propellant. Although it is not feasible to catch up to the asteroid, if a similar asteroid were in a better orbit, then that asteroid could yield as much as $39 billion.
“Getting these supplies to serve communications satellites and coming crewed missions to Mars from in-space sources like asteroids is key — if we are going to explore and settle space,” Rick Tumlinson, Chairman of DSI, said. “While this week´s visitor isn´t going the right way for us to harvest it, there will be others that are, and we want to be ready when they arrive.”