June 30 is the world asteroid day and it is held on the anniversary of Siberian Tunguska event which is known as one of the most dangerous asteroid related event on earth. This day is designed by United Nations general assembly to raise awareness about the harmful effects of asteroids and measures to be taken to avoid these effects. On this day lets know more about the asteroids.
After the formation of the solar system, some of the rocky remains which failed to form a planet started to revolve around the sun around 4.6 billion years ago and these are called asteroids. Asteroids are made of same starting materials as earth and the other planets. But they are not big enough to be called a planet. Currently 1,097,065 is the known asteroid count and there is an asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars which contains more than 200 asteroids of size larger than 60 miles in diameter. And many asteroids are present outside the belt also.
asteroids can be very big of 940km and can be very small of 6-foot-wide. They are irregularly shaped although some are nearly spherical. Their surface is pitted as moon`s surface. Some of the asteroids also have their own moon. There are binary asteroids also present which revolve around the sun in pair and revolve around each other too. The average temperature on their surface is minus 73 degree Celsius.
THERE IS A CLASSIFICATION FOR ASTEROIDS BASED ON THEIR COMPOSITION
C-type asteroids: They are also called as carbonaceous asteroids. This is the most common type of the asteroid making 75% of the population. They are mostly grey in color. They have large amount of carbon with rocks and minerals. They inhabit the main belt`s outer region.
M-type asteroids: They are also called as metallic asteroids. They are mostly made of nickel and iron and small amount of stone. They are moderately bright and red in color. They are in the middle region of the main belt.
S-type asteroids: They are also called as siliceous asteroids. They are of 17% of the total asteroids present at inner region of the asteroid belt. They are mostly made of silicate materials. Their composition is similar to meteorites.
CAN ASTEROIDS BE A SPACE COLONY FOR HUMANITY?
The desperation of the humanity for survival is the main driving force to think about colonizing the asteroids. But this has many obstacles. The main challenge is the transportation. Asteroid belt is 204.43 million miles away from the earth & journey to them may take more than 18 months. And size of the asteroids is not enough to produce gravity. This makes landing on them difficult. Another problem is the temperature which is very less. Scientist are studying to remove all these obstacles and possibility of habiting on the asteroids is quite at the far end of the future.
MINING ON ASTEROIDS
Mineral depletion is becoming a major thing on the earth. It is predicted that earth will run out of the minerals in coming 50-60 years. So extraction of minerals from the space that too asteroids sounds interesting and hopeful. Asteroids also contain water which can be used as fuel for the spacecrafts used. Its been said that the world`s first trillionaire will be a person who owns asteroid mining. Asteroid mining will bring the essential economic progress.
Mining on asteroids requires a lot amount of resources. Some of may include mining robots and haulers. Construction and maintenance of infrastructure is important. In-space manufacturing should be enabled to do mining effectively. Bringing the mined materials back to earth is also a challenge.
The technology for asteroid mining is being constructed by a company called Deep space industries. They are developing 3 types of spacecrafts. They are: Fireflies to examine the asteroids, Dragonflies to bring back samples to the earth and Harvesters to voyage to the asteroids and gather tons of minerals and return back to the earth. TransAstra is another company which is developing technologies for the same. If all these companies succeed then the dream of mining on asteroids will come true and will benefit the earth`s economy.