What is an asteroid made of?

25 February 2013

Question

Hi,

I love the shows and podcast them weekly.

I recently read a news story about sending a spacecraft to impact an asteroids to see if it would alter it's path and possibly avoid an impact with the earth. My question is: What is an asteroid made of and could it contain valuable minerals or resources that we could use? And could it be mined or captured by a spacecraft and returned to earth? And if so, how could this be done?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Thank you

Fred Chambers
Salem, Oregon USA

Answer

We put this question to Dr Jonathan Shanklin, director of the Comet sections of the British Astronomical Association and the Society for Popular Astronomy...

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