Platinum in Asteroid Could Retire US Debt
By Howard Bloom
This Friday, February 15 at 3:30 pm ES, earth will have one of its closest asteroid encounters of our generation. The would-be earth smasher will be asteroid 2012 DA14. But some will look up at the sky, watch the asteroid go by a mere 17,150 miles away, and see a fortune just out of reach.
A single asteroid of medium size contains enough platinum to retire the entire US debt. But that’s not all. The platinum in that one asteroid can also buy the entire annual gross domestic product of China and Japan. Yes, one modest asteroid has enough platinum metals to make America debt-free and to buy every laptop, tablet, flat screen tv, toy, shoe, dumpling, and high speed railroad ticket in Japan and China.
According to space expert Dennis Wingo, author of the book Moonrush: Improving Life on Earth with the Moon's Resources and CEO and Founder of the space systems engineering company Skycorp ( “The Asteroid that is most often talked about is 3554 Amun.” Explains Wingo, 3554 Amun “is about 500 meters in diameter.” That’s a mere 1,640 feet. Yet the asteroid “weighs about 1.5 MILLION metric tons.” So how much platinum does 3554 Amun contain? Says Wingo, “$31 trillion dollars” worth. Thirty one trillion dollars-- that’s nearly twice America’s debt of close to $16.5 trillion. And it’s enough to buy America’s annual Gdp of $14.991 trillion plus China’s Gdp of $7.203 trillion, plus Japan’s Gdp of $5.870 trillion, and still toss in a bonus, the entire Gdp of France ($2.775 trillion).
There is a small problem. Says Australian space mining expert Mark Sonter, a way needs to be “found of extracting and returning these metals to the earth-based market.” But, adds Sonter, that earth-based market “DOES exist.” And the technology to extract the metals is on its way. Two new companies have been formed in the last year specifically to mine asteroids. They are Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources, a company backed by Google founder Larry Page, Google chairman Eric Schmidt, and Titanic and Avatar-maker James Cameron.
Wingo, Sonter, and the experts from the two new companies agree that the best use of the materials in an asteroid—from nickel and iron to osmium, palladium, and gold—would be in space itself. Says Sonter, “even a small asteroid could make a magnificent space station.” And Planetary Resources has put out a press release explaining that asteroid 2012 DA14, the one that will whisk past us on Friday, is only worth $195 billion—just a tad more than the Gdp of Romania. Not all the space stuff that comes close to earth is up there in the really big figures.
But one simple fact remains—a modest-sized asteroid like 3554 Amun contains roughly ten times more platinum than all of the platinum we humans have mined in history. Ahhh, well, maybe next time.