Image 1-4 credit: Michaela Ream
Top left: Edmonton meteorite; top right: Brenham meteorite, lower right: Grein 005 meteorite; lower left: Whitecourt meteorite. All of these are examples of iron right meteorites, made entirely of iron-nickel metal alloy, except for Brenham which is a pallasite. Pallasites are mixtures of iron-nickel metal and the mineral olivine. All of these meteorites were once part of the core of an asteroid several hundred kilometers across.
Q: Is it a possibility that the kinds of rare metals that can be found in meteorites would have sufficient quantity to make it worthwhile creating an asteroid mining operation?
A: “It comes back to what some of the meteorites tell us about the composition and the processes that have affected those asteroids. So you can think of the planets in the solar system and all these individual asteroids as kind of like their own experiments—you put a certain mix of stuff together into something the size of the Earth and let it run and the core, the mantle, the crust, the atmosphere forms. “Asteroids are a much smaller scale, but some of them may have been hundreds of kilometers across at one point, and they got broken up. So you have processes like the formation of an iron rich core, rocky mantle and crust, all on the asteroid scale—hundreds of kilometers across. Collisions happen and you break that thing apart and the core itself is exposed and the stuff from the core ends up becoming stuff that becomes meteorites. "So we understand from the iron rich meteorites, the so called iron meteorites, that they are enriched in iron and nickel and other elements that went along when the core was formed, including things like iridium, gold, platinum (dissolved inside the iron-nickel metal), those sorts of things that are in relatively higher concentration than what we have at the surface of the Earth typically. With that in mind, people have proposed mostly if the cost of launching things into space comes down, then we could potentially mine these asteroids for these elements.” #meteorites #ironmeteorite #museum #museumcollection #highlights #ualberta #uofa