Postcards from the Bleeding Edge
Saturday, December 25, 2004

  Asteroid 2004MN4

Considering the mass (8e+10kg estimated), orbital inclination (3.3 deg), and eccentricity (.191276) 2004MN4 is a pretty good candidate for exploration.

The probability estimate needs to be refined to account for the Yorp effect [bellatrixobservatory.org].

Further observations will show approximately what 2004MN4 is made of. I have hope that it's a rocky body with quality ores such as nickel/iron... but only a Deep impact style probe would give us truly hard data.

Now, if you look at the orbital plot [nasa.gov], you'll note just how close this rock is right now... and how close it gets twice a year, not just on april 13, 2029.

While the newspapers and the slashdot articles are focused on the potential impact energy, (m*v), I'm far more interested in m. This rock has more mass than mankind has put into space since the beginning of the Space age; far, far more mass than is projected to be in the International Space station. It's bigger than a football stadium! And there it goes by, whizzing overhead, on near miss after near miss, for the next couple centuries.

(note I may have slipped a decimal point here) Assume 2004MN is 1% nickel. Earth value of 8,000,000 tonnes of nickel is: 12,200,000,000 US dollars. (well, until the nickel futures market crashes harder than this asteroid will). Value of any material, if it were in earth orbit, is 10,000/lb and that's too many zeros for me to type here. For just the nickel. Oxygen is even more valuable. Slag is valuable.

If we just had a booster on the pad with enough oomph, we could get a probe there in a matter of weeks [nasa.gov].

IF this asteroid contains valuable materials (be they platinum, iron, nickel, gold, oxygen, or carbon), it would be a bonanza for mankind's space efforts.

Let's find out! Divert Dawn [ucla.edu](launch date 06/06), or Deep Impact [nasa.gov] (launch date 01/12/05).

This asteroid (and many other NEAs like it [nasa.gov]) is not just a threat, but an opportunity [blogspot.com]. It's an opportunity to get a leg up into space.

Can we afford to take a look? Can we afford not to, with the odds of it striking us currently at 1 out of 45?

Bonus Link: Alas, Clementine:

 
Comments:
Great post!

I haven't read any of your stuff before, just found this entry via Google.

I've thought about mining asteroids quite a bit, off and on, and have a brief description of a mission I would love to see happen:

http://members.cox.net/salamon/Tech/Space/Asteroids/index.html
 
Just surfing around late night and came upon your blog...I liked it.
My site about Att Voip is hard to have a blog for VOIP stuff and boring too
 
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Hi!

I really enjoy your blog aimed at VoiP Solution.
This VoiP Soulution is based on P2P and I'am very impressed of all the options. It must be some of the best Voip Solutions Architecture on the net.
As an Affiliate you get a very lucrative income potentials, Total company payout: 90%
current solution voip
and
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Regards

Trond K.
 
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