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Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Space: the superstore for energy and minerals?

Just connecting a few dots here, but there's an outside chance that doomsters could be confounded by technofixes involving space technologies.

A couple of years ago, The Sun newspaper reported on a planned NASA exploration of some of the asteroids sharing Jupiter's orbital path around the sun. One, "16 Psyche", appears to be the metallic core of a protoplanet and contains vast amounts of iron, nickel and precious metals:
https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2642475/nasa-to-explore-asteroid-16-psyche-which-is-so-valuable-it-could-crash-the-worlds-economy/

How could we extract these materials profitably and get them to where they are needed?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Asteroid_mining

Could we bring an asteroid home?
http://kiss.caltech.edu/final_reports/Asteroid_final_report.pdf

And what about the potential out there for solar power generation?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space-based_solar_power

If we are able to gather energy in space, how do we get it back to Earth? One suggestion is to beam it through the atmosphere down to ground-based receivers - but this involves energy loss on the way, and problems with ensuring that the beam is directed accurately and safely.

Here's a suggestion that occurs to me - probably kited already among the bright brains in those research units: space elevators (cables tied to the ground at one end, and to a geostationary satellite at the other.)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_elevator
People are already experimenting with the idea on a smaller scale:
https://www.nbcnews.com/mach/science/colossal-elevator-space-could-be-going-sooner-you-ever-imagined-ncna915421

- but instead of (or as well as) being a ladder for space vehicles to climb into orbit, couldn't they be high-tension power cables?

4 comments:

Sackerson said...

JD comments:

Very interesting, but.....

"Could we bring an asteroid home?"

Probably but would it be wise to do so?

"space elevators (cables tied to the ground at one end, and to a geostationary satellite at the other.)"

A network of lightning conductors. That will produce some wonderful firework displays and will destroy whatever is at both ends of the cables!

Are there any statistics on lightning strikes for all of our wind farms or is that a secret?

Sackerson said...

FYI:

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/lightning-strikes-are-a-big-problem-for-wind-turbines/

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-7363337/Lightning-strike-wind-farm-fault-triggered-blackout.html

Paddington said...

Some thoughts:

We don't have strong enough material for space elevators yet.

A lot of this requires massive cooperation, and lots of well-educated science minds. My hopes are not high.

Beaming the power to Earth is not bad, even with the losses, until someone captures control and uses it as a death ray.

One estimate is that 100 square miles in Arizona could supply the entire US energy needs. Europe could tile over Libya.

Sackerson said...

@Paddington - wow, do it!