Astronomers Say They've Found New Class of "Easily Retrievable" Asteroids

NASA working on returning asteroid samples from space


According to NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, one of the biggest obstacles to capturing an asteroid and examining its resources for eventual extraction is the fact that scientists have never done any of that before. The space agency hopes that the asteroid sample return mission, known as OSIRIS-REx, will fill in that experience gap and pave the way for extracting materials from asteroids on a larger scale someday soon.

However, a new discovery should make the asteroid capture process much less daunting to those involved. Noting that space's version of the California gold rush is just around the corner, the MIT Technology Review says that a group of researchers at the University of Strathclyde have found a new category of "easily retrievable" asteroids. This discovery is significant, as Planetary Resources, a company supported by the wealth of Eric Schmidt and Richard Branson, has already made known its intention to start mining asteroids as soon as possible.