Asteroid Zoo – Hunt for Resource-Rich Asteroids
Scientists are scanning our solar system for asteroids with the Catalina Sky Survey. They need your help to find asteroids for the exploration of their mineral properties! The study of the asteroids helps us understand how planets and the basis for life form and evolve. Since no significant geological processes have taken place on these small bodies, the asteroids preserve a history of the Solar System in a way that the planets do not. These minor bodies contain relics of the conditions of the early Solar System. In 1994, Comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 slammed into Jupiter, leaving scars larger than the earth on the giant planet. We have evidence of other impacts on our planet, even within the last 100 years. As the events of February 15th, 2013 show in videos and photos from Chelyabinsk, Russia, occasionally one of the asteroids will impact our planet. Improving the detection efficiency of existing surveys is an excellent way to increase the number of asteroid detections. Asteroids may represent a resource that will bring the Solar System within humanity’s economic sphere of influence. These resources may be the key to unlocking human expansion from Earth into the Solar System, providing propellant for transportation, oxygen for breathing, water for hydration, shielding from solar radiation, and supporting other aspects of life and industry. In addition to these lifelines, asteroids provide the raw material for manufacturing in space, from iron, nickel and cobalt present in staggering quantities, to an abundant supply of the extremely useful and valuable platinum group metals. Just as resources have opened up the frontiers of Earth, they will again do so for the frontiers of space. There are asteroids out there, right now! Today, there are 644,632 known asteroids in the Solar System. This will be added to Astronomy Resources Subject Tracer™.