Compared to other cosmic bodies, asteroids can look quite uninteresting. But underneath the surface of these asteroids is a pile of luxurious mineral called platinum, which is extremely rare in this planet. In fact, 1,000 cubic centimetres of platinum is worth approximately $US1 million.
On Sunday, July 19, a platinum-loaded asteroid with an estimated worth of $US5.4 trillion passed on Earth. It is believed to be carrying up to 90 million tons of platinum in its course as well as other rare materials.
The space rock named asteroid 2011 UW-158 is about 457-metres or 1,500-feet wide and is 2.4 million kilometres or 1.5 million miles away from Earth at it’s closest approach. This means you won’t be able to spot it through naked eye.
Slooh, an online observatory, broadcasted images of the mineral-rich asteroid using powerful telescopes from an observatory in the Canary Islands.
As of the moment, there’s no available technology for asteroid-mining. In the future, NASA aims to capture an asteroid and bring it in orbit around the moon to enable astronauts to visit it and collect samples by 2025.
“It’s always fun when an asteroid whooshes past our world,” said Slooh astronomer Bob Berman in an annoucement.
“What makes this unusual is the large amount of platinum believed to be lurking in the body of this space visitor. Can it be mined someday, perhaps not too far in the future?” he added.
According to NASA, the frozen materials in asteroid could be used in creating space structures and developing rocket fuels which can be used to “explore and colonise” the solar system in the 21st century.
Planetary Resources group, an asteroid mining venture, considers asteroid UW-158 as mining “X-type”. This type of asteroids consists mostly of metal and appear to be remnants of big asteroids that fully separated into core and mantle.
Watch the video below.