Extraterrestrial Resources: A Perspective from Terrestrial Economic Geology

by Stephen L. Gillett, Univ of Nevada, Reno, United States,
David L. Kuck, Univ of Nevada, Reno, United States,

Document Type: Proceeding Paper

Part of: Engineering, Construction, and Operations in Space III


Terrestrial mining experience indicates that the overwhelming criterion of a potentially economic deposit is its recoverable concentration of the desired mineral or element. These criteria will also apply to extraterrestrial resources. Although the extreme cost of access to space makes even ordinary materials extremely valuable, this inaccessibility also makes capital and maintenance costs extremely high. Hence, exploration for localized concentrations of elements-for ores--will be as important on the Moon as it currently is on Earth. However, current lunar studies are not directly relevant to economic geology, as they concern very large scale processes, whereas economic geology deals with processes that are localized and unusual practically by definition. Therefore, studies of possible lunar processes by which elements might become anomalously concentrated, and signatures by which anomalous concentrations might be recognized, are not premature.

Subject Headings: Economic factors | Geology | Space exploration | Recycling | Moon | Benefit cost ratios | Space colonies | Minerals

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