Falcon Heavy Could Make Asteroid Mining a Reality

Space Miners

SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy could facilitate a 21st century Gold Rush of sorts, only instead of heading west, these miners would search for valuable minerals and chemicals in space.

Asteroid Mining: Everything You Need to Know About Off World Resources
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Our solar system is filled with millions of asteroids, rocky worlds ranging in size from just a few feet across to hundreds of miles in diameter. For more than a century, humans have considered the possibility of mining asteroids, but the logistics have proven prohibitive.

The first step — landing on an asteroid — requires a craft that is powerful enough to switch between low-Earth orbit and orbit around the asteroid. According to Martin Elvis, an astronomer from the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, Falcon Heavy could be that craft.

He told an audience at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) annual meeting in Austin, Texas, that he believes Falcon Heavy has the potential to make asteroid mining a reality by increasing the number of asteroids we could potentially land on by a factor of 15. “Instead of a few hundred, we may have thousands of ore-bearing asteroids available,” said Elvis, according to Gizmodo.

Big Bucks

The potential value of the minerals in these asteroids is staggering.

The iron found in the asteroid 16 Psyche alone is worth an estimated $ 10 quintillion, and according to NASA, if we could extract all of the minerals in the asteroids between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, the total value would be enough to give every person on Earth about $ 100 billion.

Asteroid mining has the potential to not only make millionaires or even billionaires out of successful miners, it could also facilitate humanity’s colonization of the cosmos.

Some asteroids contain iron, cobalt, titanium, and other materials we could use to construct objects, such as space stations, while in space. Others boast oxygen and water, which astronauts need to survive, while still others contain hydrogen and ammonia, which we could turn into rocket fuel to power our spacecraft.

If Elvis is right and Falcon Heavy can help us tap into these off-world resources, SpaceX’s $ 90 million per launch cost will seem like peanuts to the modern miners with their eyes on asteroids.

The post Falcon Heavy Could Make Asteroid Mining a Reality appeared first on Futurism.

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Mining Crypto Takes So Much Bandwidth, It’s Inhibiting the Search for Alien Life

Thanks to the cryptocurrency craze, we might miss out on a call from E.T. Astronomers are reporting that they can’t as easily access the graphics processing units (GPUs) needed to run their powerful telescopes and radio arrays, as they’re being bought up by those looking to mine cryptocurrency.

Daniel Werthimer, chief scientist for the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) project at the University of California-Berkeley, told the BBC that he’s found GPUs in short supply only over the past few months. Aaron Parsons, another Berkeley astronomer who works on the Hydrogen Epoch of Reionisation Array (Hera) radio telescope, had a similar story: he told the BBC that the price of GPUs his team needed had doubled.

Though designed specifically to render visual tasks, GPUs have been recruited for cryptocurrency mining thanks to their speed and efficiency at performing the repetitive computations needed. But they’re also essential for scientists that need to process large quantities of data, like those scanning radio waves from huge swaths of the universe in hopes of catching an extraterrestrial message.

“At SETI we want to look at as many frequency channels as we possibly can because we don’t know what frequency ET will be broadcasting on,” Werthimer told the BBC. “And we want to look for lots of different signal types – is it AM or FM, what communication are they using?” As a result, SETI has as many as 100 GPUs at some telescopes.

Radio astronomy isn’t the only victim of the cryptocurrency craze; a 2017 report highlighted the high carbon emissions produced by crypto mining, which requires large quantities of energy. Yet that cost could be remedied if the electricity needed were generated from renewable resources, rather than fossil fuels.

Parsons expressed concern that radio astronomy work, meanwhile, could be halted entirely if the GPU shortage continues. In that time, we could potentially miss a call from our galactic neighbors — and Earth doesn’t currently have an answering machine.

 

Disclosure: Several members of the Futurism team, including the editors of this piece, are personal investors in a number of cryptocurrency markets. Their personal investment perspectives have no impact on editorial content.

The post Mining Crypto Takes So Much Bandwidth, It’s Inhibiting the Search for Alien Life appeared first on Futurism.

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