Many are familiar with mining on Earth to obtain resources that we use for all sorts of things on the planet. What many don’t know is that this process can be, and most likely will be, expanded beyond the planet. Asteroids contain many of the resources found on Earth since they are basically leftover material from the Solar System’s formation. Asteroid mining is an idea that is currently being explored by scientists and engineers in order to exploit the resources that can be found on these asteroids. Their size and type can vary, and the amount of resources that can be obtained is dependent upon these factors as well as their accessibility.
It will take a lot of money (billions) to even begin attempting this project. However, asteroid mining has the potential to be very lucrative as it is estimated that a relatively small asteroid can contain over $20 billion in just platinum. Since many asteroids cross Earth’s orbit during their journey through the Solar System and around the sun, they can be approached using a relatively low amount of fuel from our planet’s orbit. The first missions are loosely projected to be sometime during the 2020s. Planetary Resources is a company that “aims to be the leading provider of resources for people and products in space through its goal of identifying, extracting, and refining resources from near-Earth asteroids” and more information about their plans can be found on their website here.