'EXTREME Crunch' Looming if No Limits Put on Space Mining 'Gold Rush' – Research

Researchers have been proposing to set a special “tripwire” that would issue a warning once humanity is close to mining one eighth of the solar system, which has been preliminarily estimated to occur in just a few hundred years.

“If we don’t think about this now, we will go ahead as we always have, and in a few hundred years we will face an extreme crisis, much worse than we have on Earth now”, Martin Elvis, a senior astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, explained in a new issue of the journal Acta Astronautica , adding that if precautions are not duly taken, and if the solar system has been finitely exploited, “there is nowhere left to go”.

More specifically, Elvis suggests introducing a sort of a “tripwire” that would be triggered “when one eighth of the Solar System's resources are close to being exploited”.

At the same time, water ice, such as caches of it beneath the lunar poles, can be split into hydrogen and oxygen and further used to make fuel for probes that can be potentially launched right from the Moon.

In collaboration with Tony Milligan, a philosopher at King’s College in London, Elvis arrived at the conclusion that as space mining shows an annual growth rate of 3.5% that means that a whopping eighth of the solar system’s actual resources would be used up in just 400 years.

Since mining the Sun or, say, Jupiter, seems to be a little bit too complicated given the extraordinary surface temperatures and the latter’s gas build-up, Mars and other rocky planets, as well as the Moon appear to be more plausible targets for space miners, since, for example, one eighth of the iron locked up in the asteroid belt exceeds the estimated iron reserves on Earth by a million times, according to the scientist.

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