London ball

Blood from a stone? No. Well, what about asteroid water?

An international space research study, which includes researchers from Western University, is examining how to extract water from an asteroid 200 million kilometers away in a mission that could be the prelude to increased human activity in the solar system.

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An international space research study, which includes researchers from Western University, is examining how to extract water from an asteroid 200 million kilometers away in a mission that could be the prelude to increased human activity in the solar system.

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The West team, in partnership with other universities and MDA, a Brampton-based space technology company, is studying the feasibility of mining asteroids in space and the new political law around it, se focusing on the asteroid Bennu, according to Ariyaan Talukder, a second-year Mechanical Engineering student at Western.

“On Earth we have a limited amount of resources, but on asteroids there are many scarce resources,” Talukder said, adding that there is around $330 trillion of water on Bennu.

Talukder is tasked with designing an anchor to attach a drilling unit to the asteroid and a device to grab rocks, a complex task given NASA’s recent discovery that Bennu’s surface resembles a rock pit. plastic balls.

The discovery was found in images taken from NASA’s OSIRIS-REx mission to the asteroid in 2020.

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Discovered in 1999, the half-mile-long asteroid is considered potentially dangerous to Earth, with a chance of colliding with the planet centuries from now.

Composed of about 10% water, potential uses include powering satellites, irrigating space agriculture, as well as propellant for rockets, he said.

Talukder said their research concluded that the color of the rocks on Bennu was significant.

“We were able to identify that the bright rocks actually hold more water and we tried to map out the best places to land and pick up those light-colored rocks,” he said. “We are trying to find our best location to land.”

The first few months of research were spent “extensively researching technologies we could use to get to the mine and back,” Talukder said.

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To date, they have presented some of their research on the so-called Khepri asteroid mining mission to the Canadian Space Agency’s Exploration Workshop, he said.

The team, which includes faculty and students from Western’s engineering, earth science and law departments, is working on its final report and will complete its work next month.

Talukder predicts that within the next ten years, countries could start mining asteroids “to help their economy”.

“There is a very high technical readiness that could be used in an asteroid mining mission,” he said.

A final report is expected on August 18 and will include models and simulations.

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