Asteroids, Economic Geology, And The Exploration Of Space

Asteroids, Economic Geology, and the Exploration of Space Economic geology – the study of economically important minerals, how their deposits form, and how to locate/predict their deposits – is not commonly cited as a reason for exploring space.  Nevertheless, characterizing and sampling asteroids will provide important new perspectives to this field.  Important differences between terrestrial and extra-terrestrial mineral deposit development include the environments of formation and, more pragmatically, direct access to samples of deep-interior planetary processes via differentiated asteroids, access that is not possible on Earth.  Such access will enhance studies based previously only on meteorites and remote sensing of asteroids.  Carbonaceous asteroids are of particular interest as sources of volatile compounds for manufacturing spacecraft fuels and propellants.  Consideration of the potential advances in economic geology due to commodity production from / scientific study of asteroids leads to a concept of sustainable production of the minerals needed by human civilization.


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