Wednesday, April 01, 2015

NASA and industry partner to impact asteroid into Arizona to mine for rare earths

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!]


  1. Anonymous11:28 AM

    Let's send this asteroid to Nevada. I don't trust them to land it safely. How big is it? Where exactly is it suppose to land? Maybe it will stray a little and head directly at PVNGS. If it hit the nuclear power plant it will cause an explosion we will not forget. I guess the 60 minutes report stirred up some action on getting rare earth minerals.

  2. Anonymous11:42 AM

    Below is what I got off the internet of what happened when the meteor crashed outside of Flagstaff. The final comment , not posted, would be that the blast would destroy a modern city.

    " The damage inflicted by the impact was similar to a nuclear bomb blast, but without ionizing radiation damage. The asteroid, bedrock, and any fauna or flora at ground zero would have been vaporized. Bedrock was ejected and overturned out to a distance of 1-2 km (see graphic). The explosive shockwave would have produced winds in excess of 1000 km/hr within 3 to 5 km of the impact (see effects map). These winds would have stripped away grass near the crater and flattened juniper and pinyon trees out to a radial distance of ~14 to 19 km.

    The impact shock wave would also have had severe effects on animals in the region. Dramatic differences in the internal vs. external pressures exerted on animal bodies within the shock wave would have caused hemorrhaging (internal bleeding) and edema. Animals would also have been injured by displacement, their bodies propelled a short distance by the shock wave.

    Branches, rocks, and other debris was also accelerated by the blast, causing shrapnel-type wounds out to a distance of 10 to 13 km. Vegetation and animals may also have been subject to the thermal emission from the blast, causing burn damage out to a maximum range of ~10km. This intense heat may have started forest fires or range fires, although no fire evidence has been reported. "

    The statement in the above article you wrote states " 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."

    That is not what the internet says as reported above. Mine the rare earth elements that have already landed millions of years ago before disaster strikes by fooling with nature.

  3. Both Anonymous do not appreciate, to my thinking, the multiple benefits of a large crater west of Phoenix. It would probably fill with water, after the rocks cooled, and would offer many new leisure time opportunities such as camping, fishing and waterskiing to West Valley residents. Can you imagine the surprise to the residents of Surprise?

    For those that survive the blast, at least.

    The intense heat and pressure of impact will also create and then widely disperse many new gems and gem-like stones. Many of these will show up at the Tucson Gem Show, which will probably devote the whole show to this once in a lifetime (literally!) occurrence.

    Arts and crafts shows will proliferate. New hobbies, gem collecting and jewelry making, will keep our seniors busy and vital as they hone their new artistic skills.

    And don't forget the culinary experience that should be experienced (although quickly) as the many cattle in the blast area will be seared to eating perfection. Other cuts will range from rare to medium well, depending on which side was facing the blast.

    I see so much good coming from this.

  4. Thanks John, for going along with the gag.

  5. Please see if the asteroid can redirected to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave and slowed down to just crushing weight. Flatten the building down to 6 sub basements then build a park. More green space.

  6. I think it 's very cool on how we're going to be exploring asteroids in space for rare earth elements. Rare earth elements are crucial to the world.