Asteroids might not look like much on the outside, but you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover. Underneath the surface of some asteroids is a treasure trove of a type of mineral, called platinum, that is rare on Earth but extremely lucrative – 1,000 cubic centimetres of platinum is worth close to $US1 million. And asteroids have a lot more than that.
One of these platinum-loaded asteroids will be flying by Earth on Sunday, July 19. And this particular one, called asteroid 2011 UW-158, is thought to harbour an estimated $US5.4 trillion worth of platinum.
Although asteroid mining is a goal for near-future for space exploration, we don’t have the technology right now to mine one. What’s more, even at it’s closest approach, the asteroid will still be 2.4 million km (1.5 million miles) from Earth – that’s about six times farther than the Moon.
At a size of roughly 457-metres (1,500-feet) wide, spotting this asteroid will be like trying to see an object one hundredth of an inch wide from a mile away. You won’t be able to see it with the naked eye. Luckily, the online observatory, Slooh, will be using their team of telescopes in the Canary Islands to spot the asteroid as it flies by, and they will be broadcasting the views online. Source: A rock worth $5.4 trillion is flying by Earth this weekend