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We Asked a NASA Scientist: Is NASA Mining Asteroids?

NASA is not engaged in asteroid mining; instead, it is focused on fundamental scientific research missions, such as the Psyche mission, which will investigate the composition of a metal-rich asteroid. This exploration is critical for enhancing our understanding of asteroids, which may, in the distant future, underpin efforts to mine these celestial bodies and conserve Earth’s resources.

Is NASA mining asteroids?

No, NASAEstablished in 1958, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) is an independent agency of the United States Federal Government that succeeded the National Advisory Committee for Aeronautics (NACA). It is responsible for the civilian space program, as well as aeronautics and aerospace research. Its vision is "To discover and expand knowledge for the benefit of humanity." Its core values are "safety, integrity, teamwork, excellence, and inclusion." NASA conducts research, develops technology and launches missions to explore and study Earth, the solar system, and the universe beyond. It also works to advance the state of knowledge in a wide range of scientific fields, including Earth and space science, planetary science, astrophysics, and heliophysics, and it collaborates with private companies and international partners to achieve its goals.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>NASA is not mining asteroids. The technologies for mining asteroids are not well developed. We actually can’t really mine asteroids yet, although many people are working on it — private sector, people outside of NASA. What NASA is doing is fundamental science research missions that go out to asteroids to try to understand more about them. And they will help any eventual future efforts to mine asteroids.

And NASA’s Psyche mission is an example of one of these missions. We are going to visit an asteroid that we think is made largely of metal. But from those pure science missions comes the information that maybe in the distant future humans will be able to mine asteroids and save some of the resources on Earth.

So is NASA’s mining asteroids? No, but NASA is doing the fundamental science of sending missions to asteroids to understand what they’re made of.

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Is NASA mining asteroids? No, we’re not in the business of mining asteroids but we do love to study them.

This year, NASA’s PsycheMission launched on a journey to a unique metal-rich asteroid to study what appears to be the exposed nickel-iron core of an early planet, one of the building blocks of our solar system. However, the science we gain from missions like this could one day benefit future humans in cosmic mining and resource endeavors.

And in September, NASA’s OSIRIS-RExLaunched in 2016, the Origins, Spectral Interpretation, Resource Identification, Security-Regolith Explorer (OSIRIS-REx) spacecraft will help astronomers investigate how planets formed and how life began, as well as improve our understanding of near-Earth asteroids.” data-gt-translate-attributes=”[{“attribute”:”data-cmtooltip”, “format”:”html”}]”>OSIRIS-REx mission delivered an asteroid sample back to Earth. Analysis from the sample may help improve future asteroid missions.

Credit: NASA

Source: SciTechDaily