How much useful material is out there is astonishing. A famous 1997 publication, “Mining the Stars,” suggested that at that year’s prices, a small metallic asteroid only a mile across could contain the equivalent of $20 trillion of precious and less-precious metals (equating to about $28 trillion in today’s dollars). To put that in contrast, the entire GDP of the U.S. for 2010 was just under $14.6 trillion. The asteroid 16 Psyche, about 125 miles across and one of the biggest in the asteroid belt, is estimated to contain 170 million trillion tons of nickel-iron, or enough to supply our global needs for millennia. Other asteroids contain manganese, nickel, molybdenum, and cobalt—all useful for industrial purposes. And then there’s gold, palladium, platinum, rhodium…the last of these precious metals is currently trading at around $1,350 per troy ounce (about 31 grams, or the same weight as around 8 sugar cubes).
The announcement webcast from Planetary Resources is below.
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