Asteroids could one day be considered the richest source of rare minerals and precious stones like diamonds and gold. Though these may also be found on Earth, they are truly a rare find, that's why they end up being so expensive. Futurists are thinking about how these flying objects in the atmosphere could be a rich source of these rare minerals, not to mention the fact that they could also be floating elements in space that could be a habitat to people and other living things of the future.
Although tempting, scientists take a step back on the plan to tap the potential of these asteroids because there is an inherent risk at the mere fact of tampering an asteroid for human consumption. Whether it is a small tampering or a huge one, it could affect the direction and speed at which the asteroid travels. In worse case scenario, the asteroid could unintentionally lead it directly straight to the Earth.
A cosmochemist and scientific author, Dr. Natalie Starkey, openly talked about the threat that come with mining an asteroid. People could watch her discuss her thoughts and the facts about the experimental mission in StarTalk science podcast. It is hosted by the popular astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson. He also works as the director of the hayden Planetarium at the Rose Center of Earth and Space in New York City.
Recently, the two space experts sat with the comedian and host Mark Normand to talk about Cosmic Queries -- Asteroids and Comets. During the interview, a question was asked about the possibility of asteroid mining. It is when Dr. Starkey talked about the risks that come with such an idea and one of which is the alteration of its projected trajectory.
"It is a huge risk, but maybe people are looking at doing it at smaller asteroids or comets," Dr. Starkey said. "If we start mining it, the most probable thing that could happen is that it will be taken out of its orbit and into a new one. This shift is what could cause problems."
"However, if we want to mine it, we would want to move it into an orbit where we can control it. This space should be what we can consider a safe type of orbit," Starkey added. "This space may probably be near the moon, where stuff can basically be dumped without harming anyone. This is the place in space where everything will just sit until we are ready to sort it out."
If people want to explore the mining of minerals from asteroids, they could always make it possible. In the process, people have to also prepare for the worse that could happen.