Mining Asteroids

Melting trapped ice could turn a profit for private companies, with metal processing not far behind

11 min read
Mining Asteroids

Artist\u2019s impression of a possible future manned mission to mine an asteroid

ILLUSTRATION HOME RUN PICTURES
Artist's impression of a possible future manned mission to mine an asteroid. Such sights may become a reality later this century.

One day this century an unmanned space probe will touch down on a dormant comet. The probe will drill through the comet's gravel-like shell to reach the ice beneath. Next, a tube will descend into the drilled hole, and, using heat from solar mirrors, will slowly melt the ice, pumping the melt into a giant balloon-like tank. As the tank fills, the water in it will freeze once again. Some of the water will be diverted into the probe, where it will be heated later, again by means of solar energy. The resulting steam will be used to supply the thrust needed for the probe's return to Earth orbit [see diagram, "Mining Water From a Stone"].

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Acer Goes Big on Glasses-Free, 3D Monitors—Look Out, VR

Is this what’s needed to bring augmented reality to the home office?

4 min read
A standing tablet computer shows a blow out of a car that appears to be coming out of the display.

Content creators are a key target for Acer's glasses-free 3D.

Acer

Acer, the world’s fifth largest PC brand, wants to take the growing AR/VR market by the horns with its SpatialLabs glasses-free stereoscopic 3D displays.

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DARPA Wants a Better, Badder Caspian Sea Monster

Liberty Lifter X-plane will leverage ground effect

4 min read
A rendering of a grey seaplane with twin fuselages and backwards-facing propellers
DARPA

Arguably, the primary job of any military organization is moving enormous amounts of stuff from one place to another as quickly and efficiently as possible. Some of that stuff is weaponry, but the vast majority are things that support that weaponry—fuel, spare parts, personnel, and so on. At the moment, the U.S. military has two options when it comes to transporting large amounts of payload. Option one is boats (a sealift), which are efficient, but also slow and require ports. Option two is planes (an airlift), which are faster by a couple of orders of magnitude, but also expensive and require runways.

To solve this, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) wants to combine traditional sealift and airlift with the Liberty Lifter program, which aims to “design, build, and flight test an affordable, innovative, and disruptive seaplane” that “enables efficient theater-range transport of large payloads at speeds far exceeding existing sea lift platforms.”

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Take the Lead on Satellite Design Using Digital Engineering

Learn how to accelerate your satellite design process and reduce risk and costs with model-based engineering methods

1 min read
Keysight
Keysight

Win the race to design and deploy satellite technologies and systems. Learn how new digital engineering techniques can accelerate development and reduce your risk and costs. Download this free whitepaper now!

Our white paper covers:

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