You wake up one morning to find an asteroid floating by your window – and not just any asteroid, but one worth a trillion dollars! Freaky? And yet NASA reports that Asteroid 2011 UW158 passed by at six times the distance between Earth and the moon – still relatively close for a future asteroid mining mission.
While we were partying or sleeping in on the weekend, this expensive piece of space material floated by us. What makes it a goldmine? It has has a core made of platinum! In fact, Forbes reported that the platinum core is worth a whopping five trillion dollars.
The asteroid has further escalated efforts into asteroid mining, which is already in the works – a private firm Planetary Resources is already testing technology on the International Space Station.
The company’s Arkyd 3 Reflight (A3R) spacecraft was launched from the ISS’s airlock on a 90-day mission.
A3R is a testbed for future spacecraft that will travel to asteroids, being used to test navigation, avionics and software.
Perhaps, the next time an asteroid passes, we might just get on board and harvest a huge chunk of Platinum… or diamond? I’m already imagining brides forcing their husbands to get back to the asteroid and back.
Side note: Ever wondered what the difference between an asteroid and meteor is?
In space, a large rocky body in orbit about the Sun is referred to as an asteroid. Once a meteoroid enters the Earth’s atmosphere and vaporizes, it becomes a meteor (i.e., shooting star).