Author Topic: Mineral science on asteroids  (Read 4998 times)

Offline Nilof

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Mineral science on asteroids
« on: 05/28/2015 10:40 AM »
Asteroids are fascinating scientific objects, in the sense that they become increasingly more interesting the more you learn about them. In particular, I felt it may be worth it to start a thread for any discussion about the really exotic minerals that can form in zero-g, including the (afaik) only known natural quasicrystal:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icosahedrite
http://www.pnas.org/content/109/5/1396.abstract

One can always hope for the discovery of some extremely slow-forming unobtainium mineral as a killer app for asteroid mining.  ;)
« Last Edit: 05/28/2015 06:39 PM by Nilof »
For a variable Isp spacecraft running at constant power and constant acceleration, the mass ratio is linear in delta-v.   Δv = ve0(MR-1). Or equivalently: Δv = vef PMF. Also, this is energy-optimal for a fixed delta-v and mass ratio.

Online Dalhousie

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Re: Mineral science on asteroids
« Reply #1 on: 06/05/2015 11:47 PM »
Asteroids are fascinating scientific objects, in the sense that they become increasingly more interesting the more you learn about them. In particular, I felt it may be worth it to start a thread for any discussion about the really exotic minerals that can form in zero-g, including the (afaik) only known natural quasicrystal:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icosahedrite
http://www.pnas.org/content/109/5/1396.abstract

One can always hope for the discovery of some extremely slow-forming unobtainium mineral as a killer app for asteroid mining.  ;)

Interesting possibility.  But I don't know of any minerals found exclusively in meteorites.  Icosahedrite is a terrestrial mineral, found in Siberia.

Some unique textures are found in meteorites, for example the Widmanstatten texture in irons.  This is due to very slow cooling, rather than zero gravity, AFAIK.
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline Nilof

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Re: Mineral science on asteroids
« Reply #2 on: 06/08/2015 04:15 PM »

Interesting possibility.  But I don't know of any minerals found exclusively in meteorites.  Icosahedrite is a terrestrial mineral, found in Siberia.


Actually, it has only been found in a rather small restricted area in Siberia. The paper I linked presents evidence that the grains found came from a meteorite by considering the inclusions in the crystal and noting that these match what would be expected from carbonaceous chondrites, but are not consistent with any terrestrial minerals.

Some unique textures are found in meteorites, for example the Widmanstatten texture in irons.  This is due to very slow cooling, rather than zero gravity, AFAIK.

Indeed, that is another rather unique property of asteroidal minerals. It leads to some structures that can't be easily replicated in the laboratory because of the extremely slow cooling required(on the order of Myr). Hence, in the event that some really useful mineral were found in an asteroid, it may not be possible to replicate it on Earth and thus could lead to a strengthened case for asteroid mining depending on how useful it is.
For a variable Isp spacecraft running at constant power and constant acceleration, the mass ratio is linear in delta-v.   Δv = ve0(MR-1). Or equivalently: Δv = vef PMF. Also, this is energy-optimal for a fixed delta-v and mass ratio.

Offline catdlr

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Re: Mineral science on asteroids
« Reply #3 on: 05/04/2016 11:48 PM »
bump...

Space Station Live: Getting the Dirt on Regolith

Published on May 4, 2016
NASA Commentator Lori Meggs at the Marshall Space Flight Center talks to Strata-1 co-investigator Kristen John about her space station study to understand the behavior of regolith in microgravity. Regolith is the impact-shattered "soil" found on asteroids, comets, the moon, and other airless worlds, but it is different from soil here on Earth in that it contains no living material. It is important NASA learns more about regolith to help in the design of spacesuits and hardware for future exploration missions.

Video Location: https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=ersxREmKIvE

Tony De La Rosa

Offline redliox

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Re: Mineral science on asteroids
« Reply #4 on: 05/05/2016 12:38 AM »
Space Station Live: Getting the Dirt on Regolith

Published on May 4, 2016
NASA Commentator Lori Meggs at the Marshall Space Flight Center talks to Strata-1 co-investigator Kristen John about her space station study to understand the behavior of regolith in microgravity. Regolith is the impact-shattered "soil" found on asteroids, comets, the moon, and other airless worlds, but it is different from soil here on Earth in that it contains no living material. It is important NASA learns more about regolith to help in the design of spacesuits and hardware for future exploration missions.

Good use of microgravity to simulate an asteroid environment.  I have no idea at this point whether ARM will be be "go" in the next few years, but that would be useful to figure out mitigating regolith dust.
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Online Dalhousie

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Re: Mineral science on asteroids
« Reply #5 on: 05/05/2016 02:51 AM »
This is very interesting.  I have often thought on how microgravity could be used on a space station to study asteroids and comets, but had not thought of this.  My ideas were more on the line of using furnaces to study phase separation and texture development, based on earlier metallurgical and crystal growth experiments.
« Last Edit: 05/05/2016 09:05 PM by Dalhousie »
"There is nobody who is a bigger fan of sending robots to Mars than me... But I believe firmly that the best, the most comprehensive, the most successful exploration will be done by humans" Steve Squyres

Offline jgoldader

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Re: Mineral science on asteroids
« Reply #6 on: 05/06/2016 01:00 PM »
Asteroids are fascinating scientific objects, in the sense that they become increasingly more interesting the more you learn about them. In particular, I felt it may be worth it to start a thread for any discussion about the really exotic minerals that can form in zero-g, including the (afaik) only known natural quasicrystal:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icosahedrite
http://www.pnas.org/content/109/5/1396.abstract

One can always hope for the discovery of some extremely slow-forming unobtainium mineral as a killer app for asteroid mining.  ;)

Indeed, the natural quasicrystals are extraterrestrial in origin, coming from a CV3 carbonaceous chondrite.  I was at a talk Paul Steinhardt gave about this last month.  What a story!  It was like Indiana Jones, him getting a crew together to go to a stream near Kamchatka to find tiny bits of the meteorite that brought this to Earth.  He said he's thinking of writing it up as a book. 
Recovering astronomer

Offline redliox

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Re: Mineral science on asteroids
« Reply #7 on: 05/24/2016 09:27 PM »
The ARM project looks like it's about to die, but I'm wondering what about mineral science on Phobos and Deimos?
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Offline Bynaus

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Re: Mineral science on asteroids
« Reply #8 on: 05/24/2016 09:46 PM »
Asteroids are fascinating scientific objects, in the sense that they become increasingly more interesting the more you learn about them. In particular, I felt it may be worth it to start a thread for any discussion about the really exotic minerals that can form in zero-g, including the (afaik) only known natural quasicrystal:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Icosahedrite
http://www.pnas.org/content/109/5/1396.abstract

One can always hope for the discovery of some extremely slow-forming unobtainium mineral as a killer app for asteroid mining.  ;)

Well, we have only seen it in a single meteorite so far, not in the many, many others meteoriticists have studied over the decades. So, the least we can say is that its rare. There is synthetic icosahedrite, so its not like that material couldn't form (or be formed) on Earth (sadly, a killer app for asteroid mining would be great!).

There is, by now, a second natural quasicrystal with decagonal symmetry, found in the same meteorite samples (Khatyrka). You can find the open access article here: http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/srep09111

A good website that lists nearly all there is to know about the topic (including links to most of the papers) is this one by Paul Steinhardt himself: http://physics.princeton.edu/~steinh/naturalquasicrystals.html

Here's the MetBull database entry for the Khatyrka meteorite: http://www.lpi.usra.edu/meteor/metbull.php?code=55600

I do have some inside knowledge on this one, so if you have questions, ask away, although I cannot speak about things that are not published yet.

Offline Nilof

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Re: Mineral science on asteroids
« Reply #9 on: 01/03/2017 06:49 PM »
I see that there is a new publication about the Khatyrka meteorite: http://physics.princeton.edu/~steinh/srep38117.pdf

Where apparently a third kind of quasicrystal was discovered. This new quasicrystal had never been observed in a lab before. Very cool!
« Last Edit: 01/03/2017 07:17 PM by Nilof »
For a variable Isp spacecraft running at constant power and constant acceleration, the mass ratio is linear in delta-v.   Δv = ve0(MR-1). Or equivalently: Δv = vef PMF. Also, this is energy-optimal for a fixed delta-v and mass ratio.

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