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Asteroid Prospecting in the Triangular Equilibrium

12 Apr 2011, 19:28 UTC
Asteroid Prospecting in the Triangular Equilibrium
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A few months ago I analyzed a SpaceDev/NEAP-style commercial NEO prospecting mission. An interesting asteroid report last week has made we consider a Hybrid NEO prospecting/research mission:A few thoughts on the timing challenges of a prospecting mission of any kind:One potential market for the information gathered about the target asteroid(s) is to sell the data to those interested in mining such asteroids. Most NEO’s are in orbits whose paths cross infrequently with earth’s orbit.Most “low cost” mining efforts would require a near earth asteroid to pass by earth at least two times – one pass for the prospector to prospect (sending back data) and a second pass to mount a mining expedition. Without two passes would require the venture to combine prospecting and mining into a single mission. I believe this approach to be too high risk for an investor-led venture.Finding NEOs that return frequently enough to earth to attract investment dollar for a mining mission (double orbit missions) may be difficult. And the prospector company (the company that flew to multiple NEOs in search of data about asteroid composition, etc.) will have a hard time selling their data if they have to wait for the NEO to approach a ...

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