back to article $195 BEEELLION asteroid approaching Earth

The pint-sized – in astronomical terms – asteroid that's scheduled to buzz the Earth this Friday may have a street space value of about $195bn. "Unfortunately, the path of asteroid 2012 DA14 is tilted relative to Earth, requiring too much energy to chase it down for mining," say the wannabe space prospectors at Deep Space …

COMMENTS

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  1. mIRCat
    Stop

    Have they thought to ask it by for a bit of tea?

  2. Herby

    Just wait for...

    Earth capture. Then you can take your time. It also could impact the moon and we could fetch its booth from there.

    Just a thought.

    1. Thorne
      Mushroom

      Re: Just wait for...

      No. It's value is in space. Getting the remains off the moon makes it significantly less valuble. If you could get it into Earth orbit, it would be worth more (assuming you don't crash it into the earth and wipe out Canada)

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Just wait for...

        Your concern for Canada is commendable. Does your empathy extend to other countries?

        1. Thorne

          Re: Just wait for...

          Some....

          Crashing into some other countries could make the asteroid more valuable.

          1. cortland
            Black Helicopters

            Re: Just wait for...

            Crashing it into other countries? Hmm ... Fordow? Israeli PLOT!

        2. Darryl

          Re: Just wait for...

          I think Thorne is referring to the countless American disaster movies where Canada is basically wiped off the planet within the first 60 seconds.

      2. Katie Saucey
        Joke

        Re: Just wait for...

        I'm fine if was to come down here in Canada, just try for Quebec please. If Quebec's out, it shouldn't impact anywhere near Churchill, that could negatively affect my afternoons of highly productive polar bear cam watching.

        1. Dragon Leaves

          toronto

          aim for the lushes, they're headquartered in Toronto. bande depais, de tetes carrees!

      3. cortland

        Re: Just wait for...

        Where's the customer who'd pay for it in space?

        1. PatriciaJean

          Re: Just wait for...

          If the asteroid is 20% nickel and iron and a bit less water, then the remaining mystery parts must contain a huge percentage of Unobtainium. That is where they will make their money! Imagine selling tons of it to the space elevator operators or maybe to those businesses building mega solar collectors in earth orbit. Money to be made. Has anyone investigated how many of those involved (and I use that term loosely) in the asteroid mining with past expertise in space elevators and orbiting mega solar power plants???

          All of those ideas are great except for the fact that we live at the VERY BOTTOM of this incredible gravity well called earth. The cost of lifting a kilo of anything into low earth orbit has changed little since 1957. Why do we think that by 2020 this will change radically?

          Do you realize that millions of governmental dollars/Euros/Pounds have been spent on Space Elevators and Orbiting Solar Power Plants (Research - nothing actually done) I'm sure we will see those involved (and again using the word loosely) approaching world governments for grants to "work out the bugs".

          I would like to buy the first kilo of Unobtanium - put me on the list.

          Patricia - Montgomery, AL

      4. Ken Hagan Gold badge

        Re: Just wait for...

        "Getting the remains off the moon makes it significantly less valuble."

        Specifically, once it is on the Moon it is actually worthless. The Moon is not short of rock. Similarly, there is no value in bringing it down to Earth, which lacks neither rock nor water.

        The problem faced by DSI is that for almost any amount of rock, the Moon is actually a better place to start. Firstly, for the foreseeable future it is closer to the places where folk want the end-products. Secondly, like an asteroid, it doesn't have an atmosphere, so a whacking great electromagnetic catapult can be used to get those end-products out of its gravity well.

        1. Scott Pedigo
          Big Brother

          Re: Just wait for...

          But the Moon is a harsh mistress. If you give her a catapult...

          1. Zaphod.Beeblebrox
            Thumb Up

            Re: But the Moon is a harsh mistress.

            Once the Loonies discovered they could throw rocks, it was pretty much over, Earth just didn't know it yet...

          2. Sam 15

            Re: Just wait for...

            Let me get this right.

            Your telling us that your mistress is mooning everyone?

            That's harsh.

      5. CCCP
        Facepalm

        Re: Just wait for...

        @Thorne

        Have you not seen THE movie? It's heading for Buenos Aires obviously. Duh.

    2. Pet Peeve
      WTF?

      Re: Just wait for...

      So, wait for who knows how many hundreds or thousands of years or more for an asteroid to happen to fall into earth's orbit? What are you thinking?

      1. strum

        Re: Just wait for...

        As I understand it, there are usually a few temporary natural satellites in (relatively unstable) Earth orbit, at any point in time. These orbits usually last a year or so and then the mini-moons are whipped away again.

  3. G R Goslin

    non contigeous orbits

    How are they thinking of matching the respective kinetic energy of a cargo load of ore on the asteroid to that it would have in a holding orbit around the earth? Not to mention vector matching

  4. Esskay
    Thumb Down

    Call me cynical

    But what are the odds that all the eleventy billion dollar asteroids somehow manage to fly past Earth in the next seven years, whilst DSI are still waxing rhetorical to their investors about how gold will fall from the sky, and then in 2020 we'll suddenly find out that the only asteroids left are "smaller than expected/not as rich as expected/not in ideal orbits/too expensive to access/etc etc".

    Issuing statements about how ridiculously massive their profits *could*, potentially, maybe, possibly, theoretically be seems irresponsible at best.

    1. Don Jefe

      Re: Call me cynical

      What "could" be is how companies sell themselves you know. If the company and the investors knew the future there wouldn't be nearly as many companies out there.

      1. Esskay

        Re: Call me cynical

        From the article:

        "Its mass could be as little as 16,000 tons or as, uh, massive as one million tons, the company said in an email."

        Most companies would wait until there's at least a *little* bit more certainty than that - the asteroid is getting closer, not further away, and it's not going to suddenly change it's mind about coming towards earth, so at this point in time the company could easily have waited, and estimates would have inevitably gotten better. Of course, it's entirely likely that this would result in the asteroid being a fraction of what they're claiming it *could* be. Unless they're being irresponsible, in which case see previous post.

        1. DragonLord

          Re: Call me cynical

          I think the point is that if they were going to mine it, this is the point they'd have to launch the probes now, so this is about as accurate as they are going to get for initial information.

    2. mike2R

      Re: Call me cynical

      Do these companies actually have regular investors? I mean people primarily trying to make a profit.

      I got the impression that funding these sort of things was in the rich man's toy category.

      1. Mikel
        Thumb Up

        Re: Call me cynical

        @MikeR - I don't know about this new Deep Space Industries one but Planetary Resources has some pretty deep pocket backers who are well known to be very smart and successful. Larry Page, Eric Schmidt, James Cameron, Charles Simonyi, K. Ram Shriram, Ross Perot Jr. and John Whitehead among them.

        Their engineering and flight roster reads like a who's who of NASA engineers and flight experts as well.

        I don't think I would want to compete against this group. In anything.

        1. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          "some pretty deep pocket backers who are well known to be very smart and successful."

          Bernie Madoff's list of investors were known to smart and sucessful, too

  5. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Pint

    So this is Apple's Cash Stash floating around?

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    estimates are a tad pessimistic

    Hmm .. 65 beellion dollars worth of water ? Using their estimates for mass that works out at $10 per litre. Now considering that there's apparently no end of numpties willing to stump up $4-$5 a bottle (<< 1 litre) for fashion/health/eco water here on Earth, where it literally falls from the sky, I think $10 a litre in space is a bargain. In fact, I suspect if you could get it down to Earth you could make over 100 beellion dollars by marketing it as some sort of ET water with magical health benefits .. aligned to the cosmos or something.

    1. Thorne
      Gimp

      Re: estimates are a tad pessimistic

      "I suspect if you could get it down to Earth you could make over 100 beellion dollars by marketing it as some sort of ET water with magical health benefits "

      Just call it iWater. Fanbois are use to being overcharged for shit.

      1. Minophis
        Go

        Re: estimates are a tad pessimistic

        There are people who pay to get a certificate saying that a star is named after them. If you could prove that bottled water was safe and sourced from an asteroid people would pay what ever you ask and they would probably be happier if you make extra expensive so it seems exclusive. If it happens at all the entire future industry of asteroid mining is likely to be kickstarted by the novelty bottled water drinkers.

    2. Notas Badoff
      Flame

      A failure of imagination

      Let me help.

      Where do the big boomer beasts live and work and earn their keep? Up in space.

      Now it's quite expensive enough giving birth to the beasts and filling their maws with enough woosh to get them flying the first time. How do you keep them flying?

      You really don't want to keep bringing them down to the neighborhood forecourt to fill up any time you want to send them somewhere new, do you? They are very noisy beasts and it'd be right swell to keep them out of the same atmosphere as your ear.

      So where do you set up a filling station very convenient for top ups? Up in space.

      Only, where does the woosh goop come from? Wouldn't it be absolutely fine to mine the go stuff from something already up in space? Something that doesn't have much of a gravity well?

      Hmmm, can you think of something...? While you're thinking, here's some rocket fuel to wet your whistle...

      1. Originone
        Thumb Up

        Re: A failure of imagination

        "whoosh goop"

        What an absolutely delightful turn of phrase, you don't mind if I use it do you?

    3. Tom 38

      Re: estimates are a tad pessimistic

      What, like Space2O Water?

      Sadly, no longer made. eNOT_ENOUGH_SUCKERS.

  7. Grikath
    FAIL

    Something..

    with bears and selling the skin before actually having shot the Bastard.

    As much as I believe that eventually asteroïd mining might be feasible, this is just displacing a lot of overexcited atmosphere. Seems like the Cloud is not the only vapourware around.

  8. Mikel

    2046 return

    There will be many smaller starter asteroids to cut our teeth on between now and 2046 when it returns for its next flyby. By then we should be ready with craft that can go out to this beast, stop its spin, and start to put it on a course to where it will do the most good on its subsequent approach in 2080. We'll know a bit more about whether it's worth the bother after close approach as we'll be scanning it like it's trying to get on a plane.

  9. Mayday
    WTF?

    Usefulness?

    Even if this thing is one solid ingot of iron/some other metal (as opposed to an oxide or some other ore) how is it to be forged into something useful? Where are you getting the equipment (ie some kind of forge/mould/press) to shape the metal(s) into useful items, and where is the energy to power said equipment?

    The article talks of using the minerals (including water) whilst in space, as opposed to recovery and bringing to earth, I am wondering how.

    1. That Awful Puppy
      Go

      Re: Usefulness?

      I think having a relatively vast supply of metal and water in orbit is a very good thing indeed. Send up a ThingWotMakesOtherThings(TM) (or a von Neumann machine, if you want to be really high-brow about it), leave it to work there for a while, refining metal and turning water into delicious hydrogen and even more delicious oxygen, and in a few years' time, you have all we need for a space-based industrial complex and maybe even the beginnings of humanity becoming a true space-faring race.

      In my opinion, while 999 of 1000 such companies will go bust, it'll be the one that doesn't that will advance humanity by a significant bit. And I very much look forward to it.

    2. DJO Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Re: Usefulness?

      and where is the energy to power said equipment?

      Yes it's a tricky one, what would really help is a handy nearby fusion reactor that could spew out energy as useful radiation. Oh well back to the drawing board.

      1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
        Devil

        Meanwhile, we have HAPPY HAPPY FISSION reactors (a PWR in my orbit? It's more likely than you think!)

        Or you can deploy SOLAR REFLECTORS to direct heat onto the poor astro-roid which will transform itself into a nicely outgassing marble once you deploy several hundred km² worth of mylar.

        Space Super Capitalism!!

        1. Mikel
          Meh

          @Destroy All Monsters

          He is talking about the sun. But then you could only operate your orbital 3D printer when the sun is shining. Oh wait.

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why capture it?

    Next time send up a self-sufficient, robotic, factory ship.

    It could mine the rock for the duration of it's orbit and on the subsequent pass by Earth it could present the owners with the refined ore/diamonds/starship/death-star (tick as applicable)

  11. mfritz0
    Happy

    Make a giant ChemCam like the Curiosity rover uses.

    It'd be nice if some astronomer could make some kind of laser telescope configuration to hit that rock with a pulse laser and get a spectrum flash from it to actually determine what it is made of.

  12. Local G
    Trollface

    "The big money will not be made mining the asteroid."

    It'll be made mining the suckers on Wall Street the day of DSI's IPO.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    What if it *isnt* just an asteroid...

    It might just about fit a small alien spaceship inside the hollowed out interior.

    The second it gets close to Earth, it "sheds" its outer shell and gives it a little nudge (having first filled it with synthesized Li7D and a suitably large "continent buster" from its onboard Zero Point Module bank and water in said asteroid) and voila! Meteorblitzkrieg!

    Apologies to the makers of SG1 for "borrowing" their idea.

    Anyone done a neutrino scan yet, 10 N/hr originating from said asteroid would be a dead giveaway that something nasty lurks within (tm)

    AC/DC 6EQUJ5

  14. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I'm baffled they haven't sold this rock and made beeelions

    after all, humans are well-known and skilled in trading in far more ephemeral entities, than a solid lump of rock only a few billion miles away.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Fantasy

    Who would have thought that all those hard-working Silicon Valley "tech" billionaires had so much time to watch the science fiction movies being churned out by their alter egos in the south of the State, and so little to study hard subjects like engineering and economics? Assuming they aspire to do more than punt exceedingly overpriced stock to gullible investors, they're going to rapidly find out how hard real tech is when they try to build the world's first fully autonomous, self-repairing, self-powered rust-processing factory capable of dealing with more than milligrams of material, and get it into space. Very inspirational, but fantasy.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Terminator

      Where is John Galt?

      DO IT NOW!!

    2. fandom

      Re: Fantasy

      Wouldn't you have told the same thing to the Wright brothers in 1900?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Fantasy

        I wouldn't have said the same thing to the Wright brothers, because by 1900 there had been plenty of gliders and even less successful powered aircraft, a decade and more before they started work on their aircraft. This "scheme" is more akin to their great-great-grandad pitching the Wright Flyer Company to investors in 1800 when the state of the art was the hot air balloon.

  16. Anonymous Coward
    Facepalm

    BS indeed

    <"Unfortunately, the path of asteroid 2012 DA14 is tilted relative to Earth, requiring too much energy to chase it down for mining," say the wannabe space prospectors at Deep Space Industries>

    Right...... otherwise you're ready to go mining then if a slower one appears? Really?

    So it's back in the earth's neighbourhood in thirty odd years - 2046. The last footprint was left on the moon forty years ago and nothing has been lifted to space on the same scale since...... Unless it hits us in 2046, I'd imagine it'll fly by uninhibited by any fantastical mining plans then as well.

  17. Flakey

    What happens if

    its just.... rock?

    1. theblackhand

      Re: What happens if

      Exactly the same as if it is made of pure unobtanium valued at a bazillion dollars a tonne - absolutely nothing.

      Re-read the article with two thoughts in mind:

      - DSI want more funding for what is currently an unproven company (how many asteroids have they successfully mined or even surveyed?)

      - PR people are expensive to have sitting around doing nothing. Maybe if they manage to get a few new investors interested in the company, they won't get fired this week.

  18. Tim Worstal

    Grrrrr

    Your metals wide boy reporting in here.

    It really does bug me when such valuations are offered. The value of a lump of rock (or ore, whatever you want to call it) is the value of the materials extracted MINUS the costs of extraction.

    Given that no one at all can mine this heap of dirt the value is therefore zero.

  19. Will Godfrey Silver badge
    Unhappy

    I wonder

    What would capturing something with significant mass and momentum do to both our rotation and angular velocity.

    1. Ken Hagan Gold badge

      Re: I wonder

      Compared to the Earth, asteroids are just dust. But they do say that the last time something larger came our way it knocked the stuffing out of the planet. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Giant_impact_hypothesis)

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Why Bother ?

    Just send Bruce Willis (He's in town) with a few of Hollywood and RIAA/MPAA /BPA executives, with a few nukes. Make then an offer they cant refuse.

    Job done. either they bring back the booty, or come down and seek alternative employemnt.

    At least this will stop them suing Grandmas andlittle children and can earn some real money by streaming this civiilzation saving heroics via the interwebs.

    Makes commercial sense.

  21. Christoph
    Headmaster

    Theoretical value

    The values given are for the refined material available in orbit.

    But that assumes (1) There are enough customers for that much material at that price, and (2) That the price they are willing to pay will stay the same.

    But how do they calculate those prices? Are they the current prices, when it's incredibly expensive to get stuff into orbit and there's hardly any stuff available in orbit?

    If so then they're just chucking huge numbers around for publicity. They wouldn't get anything near that in practice.

    People used to make jewellery out of aluminium because it was so valuable, being so hard to extract.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Trollface

      Re: Theoretical value

      There is a bizillaonozas of valuable metals on Mars. Scrap that, there is a diamond sized planet! http://rt.com/news/astronomy-diamond-earth-planet-210/

      I'm currently taking investment in my company called "Diamonds Rz Us" who are planning to mine the diamond planet in 2999. Any takers? It's totally legit. I got economy scientists to check out my back of the napkin scribbles and everything.

  22. TeeCee Gold badge
    Meh

    Weasel words.

    Slight snag.

    As the number of orbital manufacturing complexes currently numbers, er, zero and the number of on-orbit rocket refuelling stations numbers, er, zero there's no market.

    Thus the actual value of the thing at todays prices is, er, bugger all.....

  23. JeffyPooh
    Pint

    The Native Population on 2012 DA14

    It's simply loaded with proto-people, according to that guy in Sri Lanka.

  24. Code Monkey

    Asteroid mining promises to be such a wonderful bubble

    I wonder if I can insist that there's no asteroid miining in my pension.

  25. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Send out some enterprising Space Frontier types to move it into lunar orbit

    Send out some intrepid space frontiersmen to shift it into Earth (or lunar) orbit. A few carefully-vectored nuclear bombs should do the trick.

    It's only fiction, and it was written strictly for kids - but have a look at "Rip Foster Rides the Gray Planet" (published in 1954). It does contain a few scientific solecisms, but as well as being a fine adventure story it does quite a good job of conveying the basic ideas of celestial mechanics.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Send out some enterprising Space Frontier types to move it into lunar orbit

      http://www.amazon.co.uk/Foster-rides-Planet-Venture-library/dp/B0000CIRIO/ref=sr_1_4?ie=UTF8&qid=1360765299&sr=8-4

  26. Local G
    Alien

    Time to rent "Galaxy Quest" from Netflix again. (for those who do not own it)

    "Sarris chases the Protector into a space minefield, which damages the beryllium sphere that powers the ship's reactor. The crew of the Protector acquire a new sphere from a nearby planet after battling various alien creatures..."

    Godzillium mined from an asteroid or from a planet. What's the dif? It's the greatest film ever made.

  27. Wish You Were Here
    Thumb Up

    No problem

    Just announce it's made of copper and some pikeys will come and pinch it in a transit van.

    1. asdf
      Trollface

      Re: No problem

      And thanks to Guy Ritchie us Yanks can get the joke.

    2. asdf
      Joke

      Re: No problem

      And by the way the term pikey is offensive. They prefer the term "caravan utilising nomadic traveller". Just don't use the acronym in mixed company.

  28. philbo

    Probes?

    They have small "firefly" probes at the moment, larger "dragonfly" ones to come...

    I'm guessing they'll have a workable space mining operation when they get as far as "dung beetle"

  29. Alan Firminger

    Measurements in yards !!!

    Can't we get back to football pitches and Olympic sized swimming pools ?

  30. Alan Firminger

    Perhaps we're all doomed, again

    Was the meteor that crashed into the Urals traveling in formation with tonight's space rock ?

    If they are related then how much else is there to come ?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Perhaps we're all doomed, again

      Redoomed?

      We'd have an appeal on double jeopardy.

This topic is closed for new posts.

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    Sadly, missing all of us by 800 million years

    A massive asteroid broke apart within the inner Solar System and showered the Earth and Moon with up to fifty quadrillion kilograms of meteoroids, say a trio of Japanese scientists. That's approximately 30 to 60 times more cosmic material than the Chicxulub prang that thoroughly ruined the dinosaurs' day.

    The academics analyzed data from Japan's JAXA Moon orbiter Kaguya, and lunar regolith collected by NASA’s Apollo missions, and found tantalizing clues that several large craters on the Moon formed at the same time, some 800 million years ago. Eight out of the 59 cavities studied dated back to a time just before the Cryogenian period, when the Earth was covered in ice.

    One of the most prominent structures, the Copernicus crater, is surrounded by hundreds of smaller holes that were also created at the same time. “We determined the age distribution of lunar craters over three billion years, and we discovered the sporadic peak around several hundred million years ago,” Kentaro Terada, first author of a study into the findings, published in Nature Communications, and a professor of the planetary science group at Osaka University, told The Register.

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  • We're not all about rockets, says NASA: Balloon tech is good enough for economical star scanning
    Ahem, hey, any chance LOHAN can hitch a ride?

    NASA wants to lift a 2.5-metre-long, reusable far-infrared telescope into Earth’s stratosphere using a massive high-altitude balloon in 2023 to check out the heavens more economically.

    The mission, known as ASTHROS, short for Astrophysics Stratospheric Telescope for High-spectral Resolution Observations at Submillimeter-wavelengths, will gather a range of data to help scientists better understand star formation.

    The hardware will be lifted by a 400-foot (120-metre)-wide balloon to an altitude of about 24.6 miles (40km), allowing it to pick up signals blocked by Earth's lower atmosphere. It’ll only have about three weeks to study gas swirling around young stars, and nitrogen ions that reveal where massive stars and supernova have affected star-forming areas. Here's NASA's description of the mission:

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