Earth-Buzzing Asteroid May Be Worth Billions - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

Earth-Buzzing Asteroid May Be Worth Billions

Posted: Updated:

YAHOO.COM - The space rock set to give Earth a historically close shave this Friday (Feb. 15) may be worth nearly $200 billion, prospective asteroid miners say.

The 150-foot-wide (45 meters) asteroid 2012 DA14 — which will zoom within 17,200 miles (27,000 kilometers) of Earth on Friday, marking the closest approach by such a large space rock that astronomers have ever known about in advance — may harbor $65 billion of recoverable water and $130 billion in metals, say officials with celestial mining firm Deep Space Industries.

That's just a guess, they stressed, since 2012 DA14's composition is not well known and its size is an estimate based on the asteroid's brightness.

The company has no plans to go after 2012 DA14; the asteroid's orbit is highly tilted relative to Earth, making it too difficult to chase down. But the space rock's close flyby serves to illustrate the wealth of asteroid resources just waiting to be extracted and used, Deep Space officials said. [Deep Space Industries' Asteroid-Mining Vision in Photos]

"While this week's visitor isn't going the right way for us to harvest it, there will be others that are, and we want to be ready when they arrive," Deep Space chairman Rick Tumlinson said in a statement Tuesday (Feb. 12).

Deep Space Industries wants to use asteroid resources to help humanity expand its footprint out into the solar system. The company plans to convert space rock water into rocket fuel, which would be used to top up the tanks of off-Earth satellites and spaceships cheaply and efficiently.

Asteroidal metals such as iron and nickel, for their part, would form the basis of a space-based manufacturing industry that could build spaceships, human habitats and other structures off the planet.

The idea is to dramatically reduce the amount of material that needs to be launched from Earth, since it currently costs at least $10 million to send 1 ton of material to high-Earth orbit, officials said.

"Getting these supplies to serve communications satellites and coming crewed missions to Mars from in-space sources like asteroids is key if we are going to explore and settle space," Tumlinson said.

Deep Space Industries is just one of two asteroid-mining firms that have revealed their existence and intentions in the past 10 months. The other is Planetary Resources, which has financial backing from billionaires such as Google execs Larry Page and Eric Schmidt.

Deep Space aims to launch a phalanx of small, robotic prospecting probes called Fireflies in 2015. Sample-return missions to potential targets would occur shortly thereafter, with space mining operations possibly beginning around 2020.

Planetary Resources also hopes its activities open the solar system up for further and more efficient exploration. The company may launch its first low-cost prospecting space telescopes within the next year or so.

  • Most Popular StoriesMost Popular StoriesMore>>

  • PHOTOS: 10-year-old goldfish has surgery to remove tumor

    PHOTOS: 10-year-old goldfish has surgery to remove tumor

    Monday, September 15 2014 2:39 PM EDT2014-09-15 18:39:15 GMT
    KHQ.COM - You could say that George the Goldfish is one lucky fish. When George's owners who were reportedly "very attached to him," learned that George had a life-threatening tumor, instead of putting him down or waiting for nature to take its course, they opted for a life-saving operation to save little George's life.>>
    KHQ.COM - You could say that George the Goldfish is one lucky fish. When George's owners who were reportedly "very attached to him," learned that George had a life-threatening tumor, instead of putting him down or waiting for nature to take its course, they opted for a life-saving operation to save little George's life.
    >>
  • WATCH: Rarely seen 9/11 Budweiser commercial that aired only once

    WATCH: Rarely seen 9/11 Budweiser commercial that aired only once

    Thursday, September 11 2014 8:52 PM EDT2014-09-12 00:52:54 GMT
    KHQ.COM - This Budweiser commercial was produced after the September 11th terrorist attacks. However, it hasn't been widely seen because Budweiser only aired it once so as not to benefit financially from it - they just wanted to acknowledge the tragic event.>>
    KHQ.COM - This Budweiser commercial was produced after the September 11th terrorist attacks. However, it hasn't been widely seen because Budweiser only aired it once so as not to benefit financially from it - they just wanted to acknowledge the tragic event.>>
  • US: North Korea using U.S. detainees as political pawns

    US: North Korea using U.S. detainees as political pawns

    Monday, September 15 2014 3:06 PM EDT2014-09-15 19:06:56 GMT
    WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. says North Korea is using detained American citizens as political pawns, after a 24-year-old Californian man was sentenced to six years of hard labor there. Matthew Miller, of Bakersfield, was convicted Sunday of entering the country illegally to commit espionage.>>
    WASHINGTON (AP) - The U.S. says North Korea is using detained American citizens as political pawns, after a 24-year-old Californian man was sentenced to six years of hard labor there. Matthew Miller, of Bakersfield, was convicted Sunday of entering the country illegally to commit espionage.
    >>
  • National NewsMore>>

  • UPDATE: President condemns "barbaric murder" of David Haines

    UPDATE: President condemns "barbaric murder" of David Haines

    Saturday, September 13 2014 8:50 PM EDT2014-09-14 00:50:23 GMT
    BEIRUT - President Obama responded to the alleged beheading of British Aid worker David Haines Saturday. The President said in a statement, "The United States strongly condemns the barbaric murder of UK citizen David Haines," according to NBC News. New video claims to show the beheading of Haines by Islamic State group ISIS. Haines went missing in Syria last year.>>
    BEIRUT - President Obama responded to the alleged beheading of British Aid worker David Haines Saturday. The President said in a statement, "The United States strongly condemns the barbaric murder of UK citizen David Haines," according to NBC News. New video claims to show the beheading of Haines by Islamic State group ISIS. Haines went missing in Syria last year.>>
  • Women's colleges consider transgender applicants

    Women's colleges consider transgender applicants

    Wednesday, September 10 2014 6:31 PM EDT2014-09-10 22:31:35 GMT
    BOSTON (AP) - Women's colleges are revisiting policies around enrolling transgender students. Mills College in Oakland, California, recently became the first women's college to issue a written policy saying it would accept undergraduate applications from "self-identified women" in the coming academic year.>>
    BOSTON (AP) - Women's colleges are revisiting policies around enrolling transgender students. Mills College in Oakland, California, recently became the first women's college to issue a written policy saying it would accept undergraduate applications from "self-identified women" in the coming academic year.>>
  • Snoozing burglar busted by cops

    Snoozing burglar busted by cops

    Wednesday, September 10 2014 6:30 PM EDT2014-09-10 22:30:18 GMT
    NOKOMI, Fla. (AP) - Talk about a heavy sleeper. Police say an accused burglar stayed snoozing next to a bag of jewelry he was swiping from a home despite deputies snapping pictures of him.According to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office Facebook page, a cleaning lady discovered 29-year-old Dion Davis on a bed inside.....>>
    NOKOMI, Fla. (AP) - Talk about a heavy sleeper. Police say an accused burglar stayed snoozing next to a bag of jewelry he was swiping from a home despite deputies snapping pictures of him.According to the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office Facebook page, a cleaning lady discovered 29-year-old Dion Davis on a bed inside.....>>