Guildford Astronomical Society

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November Meeting - Prof Ian Crawford

Our next monthly meeting is on Thursday, 3rd November 2016 at 7:30pm.

Extraterrestrial Resources: Mining the Moon and Asteroids

There is growing interest in the possibility that the resource base of the Solar System might in future be used to supplement the economic resources of our own planet. As the Earth’s closest celestial neighbour, the Moon is sure to feature prominently in these developments. In this talk I will review what is currently known about economically exploitable resources on the Moon, while also stressing the need for continued lunar exploration. I find that, although it is difficult to identify any single lunar resource that will be sufficiently valuable to drive a lunar resource extraction industry on its own (notwithstanding claims sometimes made for the 3He isotope, which I find to be exaggerated), the Moon nevertheless does possess abundant raw materials that are of potential economic interest. Asteroids also represent a significant potential resource of raw materials, and many near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) are relatively easy to reach in energy terms and have very low surface gravities, which would minimise the cost of transferring materials extracted from them to locations where they can be used. I will argue that extraterrestrial resources are relevant to a hierarchy of future applications, beginning with the use of lunar and asteroidal materials to facilitate human activities in space (including scientific exploration), gradually evolving in scale to underpin a future industrial capability within the Earth-Moon system. In this way, gradually increasing access to space resources may help ‘bootstrap’ a space-based economy from which the world economy will ultimately benefit.

Prof Ian Crawford

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The Guildford Astronomical Society is a member of the Southern Area Group of Astronomical Societies (SAGAS)

The Guildford Astronomical Society is a member of both the
Southern Area Group of Astronomical Societies (SAGAS)
and the Federation of Astronomical Societies (FAS).

The Guildford Astronomical Society is a member of the Federation of Astronomical Societies (FAS)