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Extraterrestrial Mining: Getting Closer Everyday

A few days ago, on September 24, NASA announced that it managed to bring a sample of an asteroid to Earth that is expected to provide unique information about the origin of life and the formation of the solar system about 4.5 billion years ago.

It is the first time that the US space agency has managed to bring back a sample from an asteroid. The NASA mission, named Osiris-Rex, hopes to have collected 250 grams of debris from the Bennu asteroid that contains molecules dating back to the formation of the solar system.

These asteroids are debris from when the planets formed 4.5 billion years ago. They are like time capsules, equivalent to dinosaur fossils that allow us to know what was happening millions of years ago. “In this case, with our mission, we are traveling billions of years back in time,” NASA planetary scientist Lucas Paganini explained to the EFE agency.

Beyond the relevance of the news for scientific research into the history of life on our planet and the solar system. This fact constitutes an unquestionable step forward in the advancement of extraterrestrial mining exploration.

In this same space in MINERGIA, I have written about the initiatives that exist to develop space mining, from both, the governments and private enterprises, because we understand that earthly resources are limited and also because of the captivating idea of ​​providing us with minerals necessary for our modern lives without affecting our environment and nature. That idea, which seems like a fantasy similar to science fiction, is getting closer and closer and could become a reality in a period of around twenty years, which is barely a breath in relation to the lifespan of humanity.

“The Bennu asteroid is a celestial body approximately 500 meters in diameter – a little higher than the Empire State Building -, which is located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter,” reports the Mexico Minero website, and adds: “What makes it so special is its composition, as it contains essential minerals and materials for the space and terrestrial industry, Among those are precious metals, such as platinum and gold, as well as vital resources such as water and organic compounds.”

Asteroids and other space bodies like Bennu house massive amounts of critical minerals such as gold and platinum. In fact, the reserves of these metals that exist on our planet are of extraterrestrial origin. According to a scientific study, published in the journal Nature, the theory is confirmed that the gold we currently have on Earth comes from space, more specifically from meteorites that hit our planet 200 million years after its formation. During the Earth’s creation, molten iron sank into the interior of the planet and formed what is now the core. On its descent, it dragged down precious metals, such as gold and platinum.

But, Bennu also contains water, and this is probably the most valuable and important resource. Water (two hydrogen atoms bonded to one oxygen atom) can be used for drinking and can also be separated into its basic elements to obtain breathable air and fuel for human space vehicles. This type of news is very interesting because the biggest challenge of human activities in space is linked to the provision of water and fuel for missions, manned or unmanned.

Meanwhile, in Ecuador, a country rich in mining resources, we are still entangled in endless debates for and against mining; other countries have overcome this inert debate and are focused on finding alternative solutions to provide us with the minerals and water that are fundamental for the future of humanity.

For now, we should not worry because we do not have any options for space missions for extraterrestrial exploration to be launched from Ecuador. Perhaps there may be an interested entrepreneur, but, after a careful investigation, he will realize that it is impossible, not because of the complexity of such an adventure, but because his project would have to have an environmental license that, at the moment, cannot be obtained or because, even if it were possible, he would be the target of a protection action or request for a referendum promoted by anti-mining groups. As a result, in Ecuador, carrying out legal mining exploration is an impossible mission.