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back to article $195 BEEELLION asteroid approaching Earth

The pint-sized – in astronomical terms – asteroid that's scheduled to buzz the Earth this Friday may have a street space value of about $195bn. "Unfortunately, the path of asteroid 2012 DA14 is tilted relative to Earth, requiring too much energy to chase it down for mining," say the wannabe space prospectors at Deep Space …

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Stop

Have they thought to ask it by for a bit of tea?

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Just wait for...

Earth capture. Then you can take your time. It also could impact the moon and we could fetch its booth from there.

Just a thought.

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Mushroom

Re: Just wait for...

No. It's value is in space. Getting the remains off the moon makes it significantly less valuble. If you could get it into Earth orbit, it would be worth more (assuming you don't crash it into the earth and wipe out Canada)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Just wait for...

Your concern for Canada is commendable. Does your empathy extend to other countries?

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Joke

Re: Just wait for...

I'm fine if was to come down here in Canada, just try for Quebec please. If Quebec's out, it shouldn't impact anywhere near Churchill, that could negatively affect my afternoons of highly productive polar bear cam watching.

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Re: Just wait for...

Some....

Crashing into some other countries could make the asteroid more valuable.

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Re: Just wait for...

Where's the customer who'd pay for it in space?

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Black Helicopters

Re: Just wait for...

Crashing it into other countries? Hmm ... Fordow? Israeli PLOT!

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Re: Just wait for...

"Getting the remains off the moon makes it significantly less valuble."

Specifically, once it is on the Moon it is actually worthless. The Moon is not short of rock. Similarly, there is no value in bringing it down to Earth, which lacks neither rock nor water.

The problem faced by DSI is that for almost any amount of rock, the Moon is actually a better place to start. Firstly, for the foreseeable future it is closer to the places where folk want the end-products. Secondly, like an asteroid, it doesn't have an atmosphere, so a whacking great electromagnetic catapult can be used to get those end-products out of its gravity well.

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WTF?

Re: Just wait for...

So, wait for who knows how many hundreds or thousands of years or more for an asteroid to happen to fall into earth's orbit? What are you thinking?

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Big Brother

Re: Just wait for...

But the Moon is a harsh mistress. If you give her a catapult...

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Re: Just wait for...

As I understand it, there are usually a few temporary natural satellites in (relatively unstable) Earth orbit, at any point in time. These orbits usually last a year or so and then the mini-moons are whipped away again.

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Re: Just wait for...

If the asteroid is 20% nickel and iron and a bit less water, then the remaining mystery parts must contain a huge percentage of Unobtainium. That is where they will make their money! Imagine selling tons of it to the space elevator operators or maybe to those businesses building mega solar collectors in earth orbit. Money to be made. Has anyone investigated how many of those involved (and I use that term loosely) in the asteroid mining with past expertise in space elevators and orbiting mega solar power plants???

All of those ideas are great except for the fact that we live at the VERY BOTTOM of this incredible gravity well called earth. The cost of lifting a kilo of anything into low earth orbit has changed little since 1957. Why do we think that by 2020 this will change radically?

Do you realize that millions of governmental dollars/Euros/Pounds have been spent on Space Elevators and Orbiting Solar Power Plants (Research - nothing actually done) I'm sure we will see those involved (and again using the word loosely) approaching world governments for grants to "work out the bugs".

I would like to buy the first kilo of Unobtanium - put me on the list.

Patricia - Montgomery, AL

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Re: But the Moon is a harsh mistress.

Once the Loonies discovered they could throw rocks, it was pretty much over, Earth just didn't know it yet...

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Re: Just wait for...

I think Thorne is referring to the countless American disaster movies where Canada is basically wiped off the planet within the first 60 seconds.

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Re: Just wait for...

Let me get this right.

Your telling us that your mistress is mooning everyone?

That's harsh.

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toronto

aim for the lushes, they're headquartered in Toronto. bande depais, de tetes carrees!

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Facepalm

Re: Just wait for...

@Thorne

Have you not seen THE movie? It's heading for Buenos Aires obviously. Duh.

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non contigeous orbits

How are they thinking of matching the respective kinetic energy of a cargo load of ore on the asteroid to that it would have in a holding orbit around the earth? Not to mention vector matching

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Call me cynical

But what are the odds that all the eleventy billion dollar asteroids somehow manage to fly past Earth in the next seven years, whilst DSI are still waxing rhetorical to their investors about how gold will fall from the sky, and then in 2020 we'll suddenly find out that the only asteroids left are "smaller than expected/not as rich as expected/not in ideal orbits/too expensive to access/etc etc".

Issuing statements about how ridiculously massive their profits *could*, potentially, maybe, possibly, theoretically be seems irresponsible at best.

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Re: Call me cynical

What "could" be is how companies sell themselves you know. If the company and the investors knew the future there wouldn't be nearly as many companies out there.

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Re: Call me cynical

From the article:

"Its mass could be as little as 16,000 tons or as, uh, massive as one million tons, the company said in an email."

Most companies would wait until there's at least a *little* bit more certainty than that - the asteroid is getting closer, not further away, and it's not going to suddenly change it's mind about coming towards earth, so at this point in time the company could easily have waited, and estimates would have inevitably gotten better. Of course, it's entirely likely that this would result in the asteroid being a fraction of what they're claiming it *could* be. Unless they're being irresponsible, in which case see previous post.

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Re: Call me cynical

Do these companies actually have regular investors? I mean people primarily trying to make a profit.

I got the impression that funding these sort of things was in the rich man's toy category.

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Re: Call me cynical

I think the point is that if they were going to mine it, this is the point they'd have to launch the probes now, so this is about as accurate as they are going to get for initial information.

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Re: Call me cynical

@MikeR - I don't know about this new Deep Space Industries one but Planetary Resources has some pretty deep pocket backers who are well known to be very smart and successful. Larry Page, Eric Schmidt, James Cameron, Charles Simonyi, K. Ram Shriram, Ross Perot Jr. and John Whitehead among them.

Their engineering and flight roster reads like a who's who of NASA engineers and flight experts as well.

I don't think I would want to compete against this group. In anything.

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Anonymous Coward

"some pretty deep pocket backers who are well known to be very smart and successful."

Bernie Madoff's list of investors were known to smart and sucessful, too

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Pint

So this is Apple's Cash Stash floating around?

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Anonymous Coward

estimates are a tad pessimistic

Hmm .. 65 beellion dollars worth of water ? Using their estimates for mass that works out at $10 per litre. Now considering that there's apparently no end of numpties willing to stump up $4-$5 a bottle (<< 1 litre) for fashion/health/eco water here on Earth, where it literally falls from the sky, I think $10 a litre in space is a bargain. In fact, I suspect if you could get it down to Earth you could make over 100 beellion dollars by marketing it as some sort of ET water with magical health benefits .. aligned to the cosmos or something.

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Gimp

Re: estimates are a tad pessimistic

"I suspect if you could get it down to Earth you could make over 100 beellion dollars by marketing it as some sort of ET water with magical health benefits "

Just call it iWater. Fanbois are use to being overcharged for shit.

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Flame

A failure of imagination

Let me help.

Where do the big boomer beasts live and work and earn their keep? Up in space.

Now it's quite expensive enough giving birth to the beasts and filling their maws with enough woosh to get them flying the first time. How do you keep them flying?

You really don't want to keep bringing them down to the neighborhood forecourt to fill up any time you want to send them somewhere new, do you? They are very noisy beasts and it'd be right swell to keep them out of the same atmosphere as your ear.

So where do you set up a filling station very convenient for top ups? Up in space.

Only, where does the woosh goop come from? Wouldn't it be absolutely fine to mine the go stuff from something already up in space? Something that doesn't have much of a gravity well?

Hmmm, can you think of something...? While you're thinking, here's some rocket fuel to wet your whistle...

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Go

Re: estimates are a tad pessimistic

There are people who pay to get a certificate saying that a star is named after them. If you could prove that bottled water was safe and sourced from an asteroid people would pay what ever you ask and they would probably be happier if you make extra expensive so it seems exclusive. If it happens at all the entire future industry of asteroid mining is likely to be kickstarted by the novelty bottled water drinkers.

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Re: estimates are a tad pessimistic

What, like Space2O Water?

Sadly, no longer made. eNOT_ENOUGH_SUCKERS.

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Re: A failure of imagination

"whoosh goop"

What an absolutely delightful turn of phrase, you don't mind if I use it do you?

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FAIL

Something..

with bears and selling the skin before actually having shot the Bastard.

As much as I believe that eventually asteroïd mining might be feasible, this is just displacing a lot of overexcited atmosphere. Seems like the Cloud is not the only vapourware around.

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2046 return

There will be many smaller starter asteroids to cut our teeth on between now and 2046 when it returns for its next flyby. By then we should be ready with craft that can go out to this beast, stop its spin, and start to put it on a course to where it will do the most good on its subsequent approach in 2080. We'll know a bit more about whether it's worth the bother after close approach as we'll be scanning it like it's trying to get on a plane.

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WTF?

Usefulness?

Even if this thing is one solid ingot of iron/some other metal (as opposed to an oxide or some other ore) how is it to be forged into something useful? Where are you getting the equipment (ie some kind of forge/mould/press) to shape the metal(s) into useful items, and where is the energy to power said equipment?

The article talks of using the minerals (including water) whilst in space, as opposed to recovery and bringing to earth, I am wondering how.

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Go

Re: Usefulness?

I think having a relatively vast supply of metal and water in orbit is a very good thing indeed. Send up a ThingWotMakesOtherThings(TM) (or a von Neumann machine, if you want to be really high-brow about it), leave it to work there for a while, refining metal and turning water into delicious hydrogen and even more delicious oxygen, and in a few years' time, you have all we need for a space-based industrial complex and maybe even the beginnings of humanity becoming a true space-faring race.

In my opinion, while 999 of 1000 such companies will go bust, it'll be the one that doesn't that will advance humanity by a significant bit. And I very much look forward to it.

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DJO
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Facepalm

Re: Usefulness?

and where is the energy to power said equipment?

Yes it's a tricky one, what would really help is a handy nearby fusion reactor that could spew out energy as useful radiation. Oh well back to the drawing board.

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Devil

Meanwhile, we have HAPPY HAPPY FISSION reactors (a PWR in my orbit? It's more likely than you think!)

Or you can deploy SOLAR REFLECTORS to direct heat onto the poor astro-roid which will transform itself into a nicely outgassing marble once you deploy several hundred km² worth of mylar.

Space Super Capitalism!!

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Meh

@Destroy All Monsters

He is talking about the sun. But then you could only operate your orbital 3D printer when the sun is shining. Oh wait.

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Anonymous Coward

Why capture it?

Next time send up a self-sufficient, robotic, factory ship.

It could mine the rock for the duration of it's orbit and on the subsequent pass by Earth it could present the owners with the refined ore/diamonds/starship/death-star (tick as applicable)

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Happy

Make a giant ChemCam like the Curiosity rover uses.

It'd be nice if some astronomer could make some kind of laser telescope configuration to hit that rock with a pulse laser and get a spectrum flash from it to actually determine what it is made of.

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Trollface

"The big money will not be made mining the asteroid."

It'll be made mining the suckers on Wall Street the day of DSI's IPO.

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Anonymous Coward

What if it *isnt* just an asteroid...

It might just about fit a small alien spaceship inside the hollowed out interior.

The second it gets close to Earth, it "sheds" its outer shell and gives it a little nudge (having first filled it with synthesized Li7D and a suitably large "continent buster" from its onboard Zero Point Module bank and water in said asteroid) and voila! Meteorblitzkrieg!

Apologies to the makers of SG1 for "borrowing" their idea.

Anyone done a neutrino scan yet, 10 N/hr originating from said asteroid would be a dead giveaway that something nasty lurks within (tm)

AC/DC 6EQUJ5

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Anonymous Coward

I'm baffled they haven't sold this rock and made beeelions

after all, humans are well-known and skilled in trading in far more ephemeral entities, than a solid lump of rock only a few billion miles away.

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FAIL

Fantasy

Who would have thought that all those hard-working Silicon Valley "tech" billionaires had so much time to watch the science fiction movies being churned out by their alter egos in the south of the State, and so little to study hard subjects like engineering and economics? Assuming they aspire to do more than punt exceedingly overpriced stock to gullible investors, they're going to rapidly find out how hard real tech is when they try to build the world's first fully autonomous, self-repairing, self-powered rust-processing factory capable of dealing with more than milligrams of material, and get it into space. Very inspirational, but fantasy.

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Terminator

Where is John Galt?

DO IT NOW!!

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Re: Fantasy

Wouldn't you have told the same thing to the Wright brothers in 1900?

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Re: Fantasy

I wouldn't have said the same thing to the Wright brothers, because by 1900 there had been plenty of gliders and even less successful powered aircraft, a decade and more before they started work on their aircraft. This "scheme" is more akin to their great-great-grandad pitching the Wright Flyer Company to investors in 1800 when the state of the art was the hot air balloon.

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BS indeed

<"Unfortunately, the path of asteroid 2012 DA14 is tilted relative to Earth, requiring too much energy to chase it down for mining," say the wannabe space prospectors at Deep Space Industries>

Right...... otherwise you're ready to go mining then if a slower one appears? Really?

So it's back in the earth's neighbourhood in thirty odd years - 2046. The last footprint was left on the moon forty years ago and nothing has been lifted to space on the same scale since...... Unless it hits us in 2046, I'd imagine it'll fly by uninhibited by any fantastical mining plans then as well.

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