[ This blog is dedicated to tracking my most recent publications. Subscribe to the feed to keep up with all the science stories I write! ]
Is Space Becoming a Gold Mine?
A new law grants private companies ownership over the materials they extract from asteroids or the Moon. But don’t call it a gold rush just yet
For The Daily Beast:
Asteroids are remnants of the Solar System’s youth. When the planets were forming more than 4.5 billion years ago, gas and dust molecules clung together to form larger objects, which in turn collided and stuck together to make yet bigger things. At the end of the process, we were left with the big planets, moons, and a huge number of smaller bodies which contain the raw chemicals we see on Earth.
Some asteroids could contain significant amounts of rare metals such as platinum, rare-earth elements, and other materials. Even water is a valuable resource in space, since it is useful as fuel (broken into hydrogen and oxygen components) and necessary for astronauts, but very heavy and therefore expensive to carry into space.
Now, President Barack Obama signed a bill into law granting private companies ownership over materials they extract from asteroids or the Moon. The bill also extends the period of time private corporations can develop spacecraft without direct government oversight, to help speed the process of getting more rockets into space.
But don’t pull up stakes for the asteroid-mining gold rush just yet. [Read the rest at The Daily Beast…]