We Asked a NASA Scientist: Is NASA Mining Asteroids?

Asteroid Mining Concept

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, 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.

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-REx mission delivered an asteroid sample back to Earth. Analysis from the sample may help improve future asteroid missions.

Credit: NASA

1 Comment on "We Asked a NASA Scientist: Is NASA Mining Asteroids?"

  1. It is criminal that NASA is not mining asteroids already. By mining asteroids in space, we could gain raw material that could be used to build a real space station, miles in diameter, instead of the toy stations that currently exist. We could also build rockets that never have to get off from or land back on Earth.

    NASA has lost so many opportunities, including those mentioned above. Additionally, we should have had a working moon base by now and factories operating on the moon surface. This infrastructure would have made it easier to perhaps even have a Mars colony by now.

    NASA should be replaced by a competent organization!

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