Researchers identify 12 'easy' candidates for asteroid mining

Aug. 13, 2013 at 8:05 PM

GLASGOW, Scotland, Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Researchers in Scotland say they have identified 12 easily retrievable asteroids that could be moved close enough to Earth for them to be mined.

Among the population of so-called near-Earth objects, these 12 could be easily mined for valuable resources using existing spacecraft technology, they said.

Researchers at the University of Strathclyde have dubbed them EROs, for Easily Retrievable Objects, which could be transported from "heliocentric orbits into the Earth's neighborhood at affordable costs," they said.

The team searched through a database of about 9,000 NEOs to identify 12 candidates that could be retrieved by accomplishing just small changes in their velocity.

"The possibility of capturing a small NEO or a segment from a larger object would be of great scientific and technological interest in the coming decades," they wrote in the journal Celestial Mechanics and Dynamical Astronomy.

"It is a logical stepping stone towards more ambitious scenarios of asteroid exploration and exploitation, and possibly the easiest feasible attempt for humans to modify the Solar System environment."

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