Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Ambitious Project To Harvest Gold From Asteroids

As we consume the Earth’s resources, scientists are looking further afield to the solar system with a privately funded space program which could be good news for mankind, but bad news for gold speculators…

Scientists are looking further afield to the solar system in the
quest to harvest valuable elements for the benefit of mankind.
Up until the current point in the history of space exploration, space missions to other bodies in the solar system have been primarily about investigation.  You could sum it by saying that the motivation thus far has been a curious need to scratch a scientific itch.  Of course this curiosity has often led to numerous benefits for society such as fire resistant materials, earthquake monitoring systems and Velcro, but up until now the benefits have been incidental rather than the primary goal of any space missions.

However, with the launch of the Project Xpansion space program, the brainchild of a group of scientists and private investors, the history books could be about to be rewritten.  As Sir Herbert Monaghan, chairman of the group explains, "The Project Xpansion space program aims to send spacecraft to specifically selected 'resource rich' asteroids as they orbit the Earth, and then via the use of robotic probes ‘harvest’ these asteroids of their valuable elements and precious metals."

As you might expect, given its high value, one of the primary elements the program will be aiming to harvest is gold, but other precious elements identified as harvestable from targeted asteroids include rhodium, osmium, palladium and a long list of other elements which, as Sir Herbert explains, "are becoming increasing sort after as new scientific developments and techniques are discovered which rely increasingly on scarce elements and precious metals."