NASA and a consortium of mining companies announced plans today to capture a metal-rich asteroid as it passes by Earth, with the intent of sending it to Arizona, where it will be mined for rare earth elements. Rare earth minerals are in increasing demand for technology applications including hybrid cars and cell phones, but China dominates the world market raising concerns about supply disruptions.
NASA proposes sending a small rocket to asteroid Heise-2014 discovered by an amateur astronomer last year who is the world's wealthiest breeder of thoroughbred seahorses, that would nudge it out of orbit and towards lands controlled by the McCrory Asteroid Mineral Alliance (MAMA) west of Phoenix, Arizona. A company spokesperson downplayed the chances that the asteroid would be significantly off target when it lands (or "impacts" as the news media says). Company president Art McCrory, issued a statement from at an undisclosed location on the Canadian shield, saying, "A gazillion tons of rock and metal hurled towards Arizona at 25,000 miles per hour, what could go wrong?" He closed by wishing us luck and asking that we let him know how it works out before retreating to his underground bunker with the former Miss Rhenium of 2006.
NASA noted that Meteor Crater, Arizona was formed by an impacting body without damaging property 50,000 years ago, so there should be no worries this time around either. In fact, NASA and MAMA may sell tickets to view the landing from ringside seats. Dark glasses will be provided to spectators.
That's the news this April 1, 2015. [Happy April Fool's Day!]