Asteroid mining is the exploitation of raw materials from asteroids and other minor planets, including near-Earth objects.
Minerals can be mined from an asteroid or spent comet then used in space for construction materials or taken back to Earth. These include gold, iridium, silver, osmium, palladium, platinum, rhenium, rhodium, ruthenium and tungsten for transport back to Earth; iron, cobalt, manganese, molybdenum, nickel, aluminium, and titanium for construction.
Due to the high launch and transportation costs of spaceflight, inaccurate identification of asteroids suitable for mining, and in-situ ore extraction challenges, terrestrial mining remains the only means of raw mineral acquisition today. If space program funding, either public or private, dramatically increases, this situation is likely to change in the future as resources on Earth are becoming increasingly scarce and the full potentials of asteroid mining—and space exploration in general—are researched in greater detail. However, it is yet uncertain whether asteroid mining will develop to attain the volume and composition needed in due time to fully compensate for dwindling terrestrial reserves.
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