Natural Resources are critical to society. Without them, virtually everything that defines the modern world would disappear, including the houses we live in, the cars we drive, the technology we use to communicate and save lives – even the shoes we wear and the toothpaste we brush our teeth with. . However, the future of mining natural resources is uncertain. We have already extracted the easy-to-access materials, and those of the highest grade. But as the population of Earth continues to grow, demand for natural resources continues to mount. There is no quick fix, but there are a lot of ideas on how to approach the challenge. One of these involves mining asteroids.
It might sound like science fiction, but both public entities and private companies are actively working on figuring out if asteroids can be a new source of the materials we need on our planet. Scientists think asteroids hold promise because they are made of the same minerals as Earth. NASA, for example, has created an Asteroid Redirect Mission with the goal of extracting a boulder from a Near Earth Asteroid and bringing it close to the moon so that astronauts can study what it can offer. Private companies are also actively involved: space exploration company Planetary Resources is aiming for an exploratory launch by 2020.
The concept of mining asteroids may be capturing the most attention, but there are other paths too, such as leveraging more autonomous machinery or encouraging more conscious consumption. This isn’t something any one group alone can accomplish. Mining companies, communities, environmental groups, and individuals must work together to find new approaches.
“If we want a vibrant economy with globally high quality of life and also to protect Earth for future generations, we all have a responsibility to get involved and find a balance that works,” says Marni Rabasso, vice president of Natural Resources at Dassault Systèmes.
Dassault Systèmes’ 3DEXPERIENCE platform can play a key role in finding new solutions, due to its ability to create virtual worlds in which ‘what-if’ scenarios can be simulated to visualize, design and explore new technologies.
In conjunction with CNBC Catalyst Content Studio, Dassault Systèmes created an in-depth look at the challenges ahead in mining our natural resources and the different options that could provide us new sources for what is needed to run our world. Check out the videos and articles here. Then come back and tell us: what do you think is the best approach for mining more natural resources?