NASA definitely knows how to shock and awe. The latest notion of the space-exploring organization is to steal an asteroid. The reason? The asteroid's iron content, estimated at $10 quadrillion.
The asteroid 16 Psyche is composed almost entirely of metal - a combination of iron and nickel. The monetary equivalent of its mass equates to $10 quadrillion. By comparison, the global economy today is valued at around $78 trillion.
The exotic idea includes the retrieval and transportation of the asteroid to Earth. Currently, NASA has no actual plans for mining metal from 16 Psyche, as humanity simply isn't ready for such a giant leap forward.
A mission to the asteroid, on the other hand, currently sounds much more realistic. It would allow scientists to study a world consisting entirely of metal for the first time. So far, all of the celestial objects that scientists have gotten close to have been composed of ice, rocks or gases.
The start of the mission to 16 Psyche was originally planned for the year 2023. Today however, NASA announced that they may begin work on the project in 2022. If so, contact with the asteroid is expected to occur during the year 2026.
One of the boldest dreams shared by scientists is for the trip to 16 Psyche to pave the way for mining operations beyond Earth. They are already making similar plans for Mars but only after we've established a colony there.
Mining in space is in essence possible even today. Our technologies are advanced enough, we need only several more decades to make this kind of plan a reality.
If humans hope to make their way to other planets, gathering resources from space is practically mandatory. It would make flights to more distant locations a tad more plausible. The expedition to 16 Psyche will show how possible such an ambition really is.