Planetary Resources Shows Off Some New Asteroid Mining Tech

    January 21, 2013
    Zach Walton
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Remember Planetary Resources? It’s the startup funded by the Google co-founders, James Cameron and others. The company’s goal is to send mining robots into space and collect valuable minerals and elements from the numerous asteroids that fly around our solar system.

Now, it’s been a while since the company has last updated the public on what it’s doing, but a video uploaded over the weekend should give you a good idea of the tech the company is investing in for its future goals of mining asteroids.

The tech on display today is called the Arkyd-100 Space Telescope. The device will be a prospector of sorts that will look for potentially mineral-rich asteroids. The team says the 11 kg telescope is “the most advanced spacecraft per kilogram that exists today.

Be sure to check out the tour of some of the facilities at the end that show some of the work being done with lasers and prototyping. It’s all very impressive.

I’m not going to pretend I understood everything that he just said, but I do understand that what these guys are doing is extremely important. Much of Earth’s resources are finite. We can alleviate the stress put on our own resources by collecting the same, and maybe even new, resources from asteroids and other heavenly bodies that orbit around earth, our sun, or any of the other planets in the solar system.

Let’s just hope the technology doesn’t alter the orbits of asteroids and send them straight to Earth. I don’t think a Steven Tyler ballad can save us from that.

  • Will Duffy

    This seems like a great idea on the face of it. When I was younger I had thought that by now humans would already have gone back to the Moon and started mining there, would have visited Mars and started colonizing it, and would have started mining N.E.O.’s and the Asteroid belt also, even if only via robots. Alas, none of that came true because the Space Shuttle never lived up to its billing and only launched a few times a year instead of the monthly or weekly flights that were thought possible in the 1970’s.
    I have to wonder though if it is economically worthwhile to mine extra-terrestrial bodies and return the material to Earth. Before that would be feasible or worth it, I think we would really have to exhaust Earth’s resources by mining much deeper than we do today. If the material could be smelted and processed in Space and made into usable objects, even if it was only structural metal pieces for Space Stations, or Solar Power Arrays or something like that, THEN it might be worth doing. That probably won’t happen though for at least 50 years, if not 100.