If some NEOs, and 'relatively close' asteroids and comets are tidally locked to the sun or have a stable minimal axis tilt, they may contain cold traps with frozen water and gases. But the most useful and closest known NEO is our Moon. It has a small axis tilt and many obvious and very useful polar cold traps.
Chronologically, the current private and national space policy NEO ‘fever’ seems to have been carved in stone prior to the new discoveries that were made by NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO.
From: Do We Need to Go to the Moon to Get to Mars?
There's a palpable longing to return to the moon. But does it make sense?
By William Sweet June 2009
“The one thing that could redeem the moon as a stepping-stone, Rapp and others argue, is if you could produce propellant on the moon to use in the rocket that went to Mars. But Rapp points out that the prospects for extracting oxygen on the moon are not promising.”
And, “One approach is to mine oxygen near the moon’s equator from regolith, the fluffy, silicate-rich material that covers most of the lunar surface. But the silicates, which are about 30 or 40 percent oxygen, would have to be heated to 2600 °C, too hot for any known container.”
And, "Alternatively, it might be possible to extract hydrogen and oxygen from water at the poles, if such water exists and proves accessible."
From: Enabling Profitable Asteroid Mining
Submitted to Mr. Norman R. Augustine, Chair Review of United States Human Space Flight Plans Committee
August 3, 2009
By Abundant Planet
Board of Directors
William BC Crandall, MBA
Founder, Abundant Planet
Larry Gorman, Ph.D.
Professor of Finance
Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
Peter Howard, Ph.D.
Senior Scientist, Exelixis, Inc.
South San Francisco, CA
Board of Advisors
Frans von der Dunk, Ph.D
Professor of Space Law
University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Martin Elvis, Ph.D
Senior Astrophysicist, Harvard-
Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics
Dante Lauretta, Ph.D.
Director, Southwest Meteorite Center
University of Arizona, Tucson
Jordi Puig-Suari, Ph.D.
Professor of Aerospace Engineering
Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo
Hon. Andrea Seastrand
California Space Authority
Mark Sonter, MAppSc
Asteroid Enterprises, Pty Ltd
“Rather than the resource-poor moon, or too distant Mars, our national civil space agency should focus on asteroid mineral resources—specifically the platinum group metals. The terrestrial sources of these vital metals are in rapid decline.”
Why are all those important and smart Abundant Planet folks so sure that the Moon is “resource-poor” and that asteroids are the best destination for NASA? Maybe Warren Platts needs to explain a few things to them.
From: Wesley T. Huntress: Author of NASA's New Strategy
Questions for the originator of the "stepping-stones to Mars" approach
By James Oberg April 2010
“The agency is to send people to Mars using a series of ‘stepping-stone’ destinations that are themselves of interest: Lagrange points, near-Earth asteroids, and Martian moons. The plan is pretty much exactly what Planetary Society president Wesley T. Huntress Jr. proposed in 2004.”
And, James Oberg: “Does this mean the end of dreams for human exploration of the moon?
Wesley T. Huntress Jr.: “Others may go there and follow in our footsteps of long ago. Best of luck to them.”
James Oberg: “What do you see as the main theme of American spaceflight strategy?"
Wesley T. Huntress Jr.: “We want to be in the lead. We want to be out there, farther out than others dare go, clearing a path beyond the moon and onward to Mars. Mars is where the American public really wants us to go, and we can give them a good game, just like we did with getting to the moon in the 1960s.”
Does Wesley T. Huntress Jr. still like his plan from 2004 and does that mean he isn’t interested in mining recently discovered valuable Lunar resources?
From: NASA Missions Uncover the Moon's Buried Treasures
Oct. 21, 2010
“MOFFETT FIELD, Calif. -- Nearly a year after announcing the discovery of water molecules on the moon, scientists Thursday revealed new data uncovered by NASA's Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, or LCROSS, and Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter, or LRO.”
And, "The missions found evidence that the lunar soil within shadowy craters is rich in useful materials, and the moon is chemically active and has a water cycle. Scientists also confirmed the water was in the form of mostly pure ice crystals in some places."
And, "'Seeing mostly pure water ice grains in the plume means water ice was somehow delivered to the moon in the past, or chemical processes have been causing ice to accumulate in large quantities,' said Anthony Colaprete, LCROSS project scientist and principal investigator at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif. 'Also, the diversity and abundance of certain materials called volatiles in the plume, suggest a variety of sources, like comets and asteroids, and an active water cycle within the lunar shadows.'"
And, "The suite of LCROSS and LRO instruments determined as much as 20 percent of the material kicked up by the LCROSS impact was volatiles, including methane, ammonia, hydrogen gas, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. The instruments also discovered relatively large amounts of light metals such as sodium, mercury and possibly even silver."
Also, "In addition, an abundant presence of hydrogen gas, ammonia and methane could be exploited to produce fuel."
From: Moon Express Delivers Lunar Mission Design Report to NASA Detailing technical plans toward mining the Moon for precious planetary resources
April 23, 2012
"The Moon has never been explored from an entrepreneurial perspective," said Moon Express co-founder and chairman, Naveen Jain. "Think of the Moon as the Earth's eighth continent, potentially the largest repository of asteroid resources in the solar system, and we have barely begun to explore it."
And, “Moon Express co-founder, vice-chairman and CTO Dr. Barney Pell, a former NASA technology manager, is confident of the value proposition of lunar water combined with precious metals. ‘There could be more platinum group metals on the surface of the Moon than in all the reserves of Earth,’ he said. ‘And the lunar water we now know to be present is the key to liberating lunar resources economically.’”
“Future manned missions to the Moon have been planned, including government as well as privately funded efforts. The Moon remains, under the Outer Space Treaty, free to all nations to explore for peaceful purposes.”
NEOs are interesting and have some resources. The Moon has long been considered a culturally, militarily, scientifically, and economically important location. Lunar water and other resources exist and mining them is doable and makes a lot of sense if you want reusable spaceships going on many missions to Mars, asteroids, and comets. The Moon is also where we can mine the propellant needed to enable a robust capability for defending our planet from wandering NEOs.
Where do you think initial commercial gains are going to occur? Some politicians, billionaires, and policy folks may have failed to understand the full ramifications of the new and valuable data provided by NASA’s LCROSS and LRO missions or they may have some old and outdated agendas, but for most space cadets the answer should be obvious.
Humans are going back to explore and mine our Moon.