Perhaps We Should Stop Looking at Earth as a Closed System
There are over 1,500 asteroids that are as easy to get to as the surface of the Moon. They are also in Earth-like orbits with small gravity fields, making them easier to approach and depart. _Brian Wang
Many of these planetoids are economically important for the resources they contain — from water ice to platinum to nickel-iron. Some of these resources might find their way back to Earth, but most of them will eventually be used to facilitate human exploration and expansion into space.
This up-to-date map of the inner solar system shows Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars cyan or white squares, and their orbits are represented by the blue ellipses around the sun (the yellow dot at the center). The Earth is highlighted because of its special importance to us. Small green points mark the location of asteroids which do not approach close to the Earth right now. Yellow objects (with the exception of sun) are Earth-approaching asteroids which are called Amors after the first one discovered. Amors have orbits which come close to the Earth but they don’t cross the Earth’s orbit, yet.
Finally the red boxes mark the location of the Apollo and Aten asteroids. These cross the Earth’s orbit and are the most directly identifiable astronomical threat for the near future.
It is estimated that there are perhaps 100,000 to 1,000,000 undiscovered asteroids on similar Earth crossing orbits. _EarthSky
Image Source: Armagh Observatory via Earthsky.org
The map above illustrates a number of known inner system planetoids. Of those that cross Earth’s orbit, as many as a million more remain to be discovered.
The recent discovery of abundant ice on Ceres illustrates the wealth of useful resources lying just outside our grasp. Ceres would provide a useful springboard for expeditions to the outer system.
Two companies have been formed to exploit the resources of inner system planetoids: Planetary Resources and Deep Space Industries. They are likely to be joined by other contestants, as humans devise better ways to access the inner solar system.
The dominant zeitgeist of modern societies has grown more and more inward-looking, sprinkled liberally with the malaise of limited thinking. We are told by Prince Charles, King Google, and Emperor Obama to focus on catastrophic anthropogenic global warming, and to voluntarily limit our goals and aspirations in order to avoid this phantasmagorical and chimerical threat.
But that path leads only to a great human die-off, and the death of great human dreams of finding their way into the larger universe.
Humans as a species appear to be perched on the cusp of opportunity. A grand window of opportunity — a critical window of species development — is being forced closed by short-sighted leadership combined with a corrupt quasi-criminal network of powerful interlinked global interests.
If not for the dearth of Dangerous Children in this world, we would not still be in the inner system having this conversation.
It is never too late to have a dangerous childhood. For individuals, and for the best of humanity.