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Asteroid miners might need applied astronomers

Planetary Resources asteroid
An artist’s conception shows a long-range view of mining robots working on an asteroid. (Planetary Resources Illustration)

AUSTIN, Texas — Mining asteroids for water and other resources could someday become a trillion-dollar business, but not without astronomers to point the way.

At least that’s the view of Martin Elvis, a researcher at the Harvard-Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics, who’s been taking a close look at the science behind asteroid mining.

If the industry ever takes off the way ventures such as Redmond, Wash.-based Planetary Resources and California-based Deep Space Industries hope, “that opens up new employment opportunities for astronomers,” Elvis said today in Austin at the annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

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By Alan Boyle

Mastermind of Cosmic Log, contributing editor at GeekWire, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.

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