THE CHALLENGE: Asteroid Mining
Solar System

Develop an approach for characterizing the composition of asteroid for mining potential and a process for mining different compositions. Explore a possible division of labor involving different types of vehicles (e.g. sensor units, drilling units, power gathering and distribution, extracted resources handling and transferring). Consider solutions for moving said asteroids between different orbits and/or consequently make periodical adjustments to keep them in place. Analyze how your idea would cope in some of the given scenarios or outline a scheme of your own.


We are AstroMine, a web service that informs the public and investors about possible asteroid

mining. Today the Earth’s resources are continuously under stress. We aim to de-intensify earth

extraction and accelerate space exploration.

We began by brainstorming how we could engage the public in an interactive way about

asteroid mining as well as creating a platform for investors and mining companies to come

together. This brought us to designing the website

Entrepreneurs and enthusiasts want to directly connect with asteroids near Earth. To enable

this, we have created orbit view. A database of near Earth objects based on the open source

software jsorrery.

Firstly, probes are sent out to collect data on the composition of asteroids. Meanwhile, users

search for a mineral they are interested in mining. Our database sends back a list of candidate

asteroids listed in order of a parameter of choice. Either the size of the asteroid, the proximity to

Earth, or the risk in mining at that asteroid. Users can also view the locations of asteroids

relative to Earth and mars, on our visualisation of their trajectories.

Those more interested in the technical physics underlying particular asteroids can click “More

Data” which leads to a page with orbital parameters and other properties.

Furthermore we have developed prototypes of probes and miners to create a blueprint of the

asteroid mining process which mining companies can develop with investors. These have been

designed on CAD as 3D models with more information about the main technical devices, based

on current space technology.

We have created a probe that will be sent up to an asteroid and has the ability to jump from

asteroid to asteroid changing speed. Within this probe is a cube called a ‘Hedgehog’ which can

roll around the asteroid mapping the terrain, conditions on the asteroid and most importantly,

using seismic acquisition, collecting data on the minerals on the asteroid.

Once an asteroid is mapped and picked the Mobile Material Mining Unit and its container will be

sent to the asteroid, where the unit will head out and use laser technology to cut desired

cylinders of material from the rock which is then transported back to the container to be

transported either to the mothership to save resources or to Earth.

These prototypes have been designed to be self-sufficient from the resources they mine as a

first step into self-sufficient space exploration.

In the future we would like to improve the precision of the risk and potential profit calculations,

At the moment they are relative and unchanging, however we would like to implement a live

feature that updates automatically as information on the asteroids improve

This would allow potential investors to more precisely assess the information and the viability of

specific missions.

Investment into asteroid mining not only offers economic benefits but is vital for future space

exploration. The extraction of water for fuel and metals for building material makes it possible for

an automated space industry to occur independent from earth. Space capsules could repair,

restore and refuel using the surroundings around them rather than having to return to earth.

These benefits are immense. Not only is it much cheaper but it also reduces the amount of

resource extraction in earth and decreases carbon emissions from continuous re-entry and

refuelling. Asteroid mining and the services provided by AstroMine is the first step in making this

future a reality.

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