Psyche 16 metal deposits could value hundreds of quintillions of dollars
Billionaires mining for precious metals here on Earth? That’s so passé. The asteroid Psyche 16 has enough of those to be worth somewhere between $140 and $700 quintillion now that we know it’s at least 20% metal. At either value, that would be many times the value of al earthly economies, which add up to less than $150 trillion.
NASA plans to send a probe to Psyche 16 in August 2022. It should reach the asteroid in 2026, which is pretty impressive when you consider it’s hundreds of millions of miles away.
What physical characteristics of Psyche 16 scientists have been able to figure out make it unlikely that the asteroid is made entirely of metal, and therefore not worth the full $700 quintillion, it is probably at least 30% metal, according to Katherine de Kleer of the Planetarium of Science and Astronomy of the Institute of Technology of California and co-author of a study on the asteroid’s makeup.
“We have known for many years that objects of this class are not, in fact, solid metal, what they are and how they were formed remains an enigma,” she told Forbes.
Obviously we’re a long way away from anyone being able to extract resources — primarily iron and nickel — from Psyche 16 and other asteroids, but should that happen it would completely shift the terrestrial economy. A few countries have begun the process of sorting out a legal framework for asteroid mining, important as whoever does it first could become a trillionaire or even quadrillionaire and easily the richest person in the world. Without well-defined laws, space could become the new Wild West, which makes for a great movie but probably not a great reality.
Extraction could alter the course of human history.
“If asteroid mining becomes successful,” Brad Tucker of the Australian Asteroid Mining Project told WA Today, “it will be the only time in human history when we have an infinite supply of resources.”