September Science Read: Asteroid Mining 101 by John S. Lewis

asteroid mining, space exploration, new frontier, John S Lewis, science

If there’s one thing last month’s science read, Gaia Vince’s Adventures in the Anthropocene, has brought home to its readers is that, except for sunlight, most, if not all, of the resources our planet is so rich in does have a limitation and the way humanity is going right now, we might see these resources running out very, very soon. Amongst these resources include fuel sources, rare earth minerals and even water. What will humanity do if we run out of these very items that we are so dependent on for the running of our everyday lives?

One suggestion is to look to the skies for the answer. Asteroid mining is a subject that’s been talked about on and off – and it won’t be an exaggeration to say it may not be too far off into the future. After all, many of the minerals and precious metals that we have on Earth actually originated from asteroids that bombarded our planet centuries ago.

My interest in the subject itself was piqued after reading Neal Stephenson’s Seveneves in which one of the protagonists in fact works for an asteroid mining company. So I thought what better time than now to find out more about the subject?

Because asteroid mining is a fairly new topic, there haven’t been many books written about it as yet. I found myself trying to decide between two books authored by John S. Lewis, an emeritus professor of planetary science at the University of Arizona – Mining the Sky and Asteroid Mining 101. In the end, I decided to plump for the latter as it is the more recently published of the two – Mining in the Sky was first published in 1996 whereas Asteroid Mining 101 appears to be a more updated version, only recently published in 2014.

So after having spent the last few months nosing around our planet for my 2016 science reads resolution (looking at our seas, nature, the Ice Age and humanity’s impact on the planet), I now take off to the skies again (well, reading-wise) to investigate these fascinating objects called asteroids that could very well figure largely in the shaping of humanity’s near future.


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