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|Rubble Pile Variable for Mining Asteroids||1||19:46, 10 June 2012|
In reference to R. Keith Henson asteroid mining article, perhaps this should be a case of looking at formation of smaller asteroids, called Rubble Piles?
The reason for this is that it may be easier to facilitate a rubble pile asteroid removal of gold or valuable gravel versus looking at a more complex extraction technique.
The asteroid mining robot could go out to rubble piles and dive into them carefully. Almost swim through the pile so to speak and pluck or swallow the gold, platinum or other desirable materials. Those materials could be sorted by the detectors and placed into their respective value collection cylinders.
Jettison those cylinders as their assay review, i. e. a camera with spectroscopy laser combination works over or spins particles around with various RF, photo or related detection with video for bidders home world bound at this stage or LEO in later stages to monetize them sooner.
A few thoughts to kick start this differently.
- 1998-09-218 Evidence for Rubble Pile Asteroids: "Are Asteroids Rubble Piles?"
The trouble is that gold and platinum doesn't come in nuggets. Depending on the kind of asteroid, you could be looking at solar disk abundance of the elements. Which is to say you would need to process much larger amounts for a given quantity of gold. At best you could sort out metal grains from some asteroids, but you would then be looking at the same scale of processing to extract the valuable metals from the mostly iron and nickel grains.
We seem to have been extremely lucky to have geological processes that concentrated various metals on earth.