Technology news

Can the asteroid Nereus be mined for metals worth billions?

Nereus is made up of nickel, iron, and cobalt.

Named “4660 Nereus”, the near-Earth asteroid is a frequent visitor to near-Earth space. (Representative image)

If you’ve watched the 1998 sci-fi movie Armageddon, you might remember that oil drillers were selected by NASA to drill a hole in the asteroid. The plan was to detonate a nuclear bomb inside the hole and split the asteroid. But can you actually drill an asteroid and extract minerals? A potentially dangerous asteroid named “4660 Nereus”, which flew over our planet last week is estimated to be worth billions of dollars.

According to Asterank, an online asteroid database, Nereus is made up of nickel, iron, and cobalt. The website notes that the asteroid is worth $ 4.71 billion and the world can make a profit of $ 1.39 billion by mining it.

Asteroid mining is not a new concept. It is well known that “S-type” asteroids or rock asteroids contain economically relevant metals. “A small 10 meter (yard) S-type asteroid contains about 650,000 kg of metal, of which about 50 kg is in the form of rare metals like platinum and gold… There are rare asteroids that contain about ten times the metal. , the of metallic or ‘M-class’ asteroids, “said Dante Lauretta of the University of Arizona. He is the principal investigator of NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission.

Launched in 2016, the OSIRIS-REx spacecraft was able to collect more than two kilograms of samples from an asteroid named Bennu, located at a distance of 320 million km from Earth. The spacecraft began its return trip to Earth in May and is expected to reach it in 2023.

According to Asterank, asteroid Bennu is worth $ 669 million and the estimated profit is $ 185 million. The website notes that there are several other asteroids worth over $ 100,000 billion.

“Building and launching a space mission currently costs hundreds of millions to billions of dollars, so innovations that would dramatically lower those costs are needed before it becomes profitable to mine asteroids for the value of their metals alone.” , explains NASA.

The agency says the lack of experience in mapping and analyzing asteroid resources is also a barrier to material mining.

  • The Indian Express website was rated GREEN for its credibility and reliability by Newsguard, a global service that rates news sources against their journalistic standards.

© IE Online Media Services Pvt Ltd