A recent study published in the Planetary Science Journal found that mining near-Earth asteroids, or NEAs, for their metal reserves may be possible in the future.
NEAs, which are rich in metal reserves, are uncommon, but they do exist, and they present the opportunity for us to mine them for iron, nickel, and cobalt for use on Earth.
A group of students co-led by University of Arizona planetary science associate professor Vishnu Reddy studied two near-Earth asteroids, 1986 DA and 2016 ED85, and found that their composition resembled asteroid 16 Psyche, the biggest metal-rich asteroid in our solar system. Scientists believe that metal-rich asteroids where formed through the destruction of planets that failed to fully develop during the early day’s of the solar system.
“Our analysis shows that both NEAs have surfaces with 85% metal such as iron and nickel and 15% silicate material, which is basically rock,” said lead author Juan Sanchez. “These asteroids are similar to some stony-iron meteorites such as mesosiderites found on Earth.”