China: Let's Trap An Asteroid In Earth's Orbit And Mine It. GW: Don't And Say We Did?
China is considering temporarily capturing an asteroid in earth's orbit and then mining it for all it's valuable metals. Me? I say we invent hoverboards first, THEN start mining asteroids. That way, when the asteroid does wind up destroying earth, we can at least all die happy.
...seem fairly optimistic that they could tweak the orbit of a near-Earth asteroid by just enough (a change in velocity of only about 1,300 feet-per-second or so) to get it to temporarily enter Earth orbit at about twice the distance as the Moon. The orbit would be unstable, and eventually (after a few years) the asteroid would head back out into space from whence it came, but it would stick there long enough for us to poke around on it.
While the Chinese are likely going to start small (the prime candidate right now is a 30-foot-wide rock), they're thinking bigger. Much bigger. Like, over a mile bigger, since a metallic asteroid that size would be worth an absolutely staggering amount of money. Now, were something to get screwed up and that mile-wide metallic asteroid hit Earth instead, we'd be looking at something like a 24-mile-wide crater and a fireball so large that trees 200 miles away would spontaneously burst into flames...
There's speculation that mining an asteroid a mile-wide could be worth something to the tune of 25-trillion dollars. That's a 25 followed by like *Wikipedia's 'trillion', gets confused* a LOT of 0's afterward. And you know what else has a lot of zeros following them? The Kardashians on Twitter. DAMMIT TWEENS.
Thanks to Pescada, who's played Asteroids at the arcade before and can tell you it's not as easy as it looks.