Exploring the Solar System: Asteroid Mining (2020)

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    Asteroid Mining activity
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    Asteroid Mining activity

In this activity, participants will imagine the challenges and opportunities of asteroid mining. Participants will draw their own asteroid mining machines, and consider how these devices would extract, process, and return mined materials to Earth. They can also assume roles assigned by the activity's "challenge cards," and imagine what concerns or priorities they might have as a scientist, explorer, lawyer, or engineer. While the technologies necessary for mining materials from asteroids do not yet exist, current missions exploring and studying asteroids may lay the groundwork for future asteroid mining operations. 



Big Idea

The technology necessary to mine materials from asteroids does not yet exist, but current missions and research may make them possible some day. If and when asteroid mining becomes a reality, it will come with many technical and social considerations.

Learning Goals
  1. Asteroids are small, rocky objects—some contain precious metals or water ice.

  2. It’s exciting to imagine what our lives might be like in a future filled with more space exploration—and it’s also important.

  3. NASA missions are helping researchers learn more about asteroids and the resources they might contain.


Year created

This material is based on work supported by NASA under cooperative agreement award numbers NNX16AC67A and 80NSSC18M0061. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).


Owning institution

Sciecenter, Ithaca, NY


Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share Alike 3.0 United States (CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US).
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