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23 September 2008

Get It from the Source

Now according to some research, to get to LEO, you'd need a delta v of about 10.  From there to the Moon is another 6 km/s delta v.  From LEO to the know NEOs (Near Earth Objects), the closest are just under 4 km/s delta v.  Departing delta v from the NEO is miniscule b/c of its low gravity.  This brings up an interesting option.  If you're intending to go the Moon, and you need things from the asteroids (volatiles), wouldn't it be wise to set up a concurrent base on an NEO?  They are easier to reach from Earth, have things we need on both Earth and the Moon and are very easy to ship from.  No need to launch lunar iron to construction sites in orbit if you can get it from the asteroids.  No need to haul water from earth to the Moon if you can extract it from a carbonaceous chondrite nearby.  Initial capital costs would be higher but how long would it take for that initial investment to pay off?

NASA NEO database

Cosmic link to precious metals: study

Rare, precious metals may owe their presence in Earth's upper crust to a bombardment of the infant planet by asteroids billions of years ago, according to a study unveiled on Monday.

Gerhard Schmidt from the University of Mainz, western Germany, carried out a 12-year investigation into impact sites left by meteorites, analysing the soil for traces of these precious metals, which are called highly siderophile elements (HSE).

Metals in the HSE group include gold, platinum, palladium, iridium and ruthenium.

Schmidt compared these with samples from Earth's mantle and crust; from Martian meteorites that have been found on Earth; and from analysis of HSE-rich rocks, brought back by the Apollo missions, found at impact sites on the Moon.

The startling similarities point to a "cosmochemical source" for terrestrial HSE, he said in a press release.

He calculates that around 160 large, metal-rich asteroids in the order of 20 kilometers (12 miles) in diameter would have been enough to provide the concentrations of HSE we see today.

Schmidt was scheduled to present his work at the European Planetary Science Congress, taking place this week in the German town of Muenster.

From Space Daily