Monday, November 2, 2015

Episode 26 - Martin Elvis on the Science of Asteroid Mining

Released: 2 November 2015
Duration: 53 minutes, 33 seconds

Download the .mp3 audio file

Host Paul Carr interviews Dr. Martin Elvis of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics. Martin Elvis has a substantial background in high energy astronomy and astrophysics, studying quasars and other huge, highly energetic phenomena deep in the universe. He tells us why he has turned his attention to asteroid mining, and explains his model for determining how many asteroids we should be going after, and how we can find them.

There is a case for much better surveillance of Near Earth Objects (NEOs) using space based infrared cameras.

Today's sophisticated solid-state Gamma Ray and X-ray spectrometers can give us quick spectra that determine elemental composition, but the techniques for finding water and other volatiles may require some digging.

Also, the Earth often has temporary moons, but catching then in the act is tricky.

Guest Bio:

Martin Elvis
Dr. Martin Elvis is a senior astrophysicist at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory based in Cambridge Massachusetts, USA. He discovered X-ray emission from quasars during his PhD work in Leicester UK, then moved to the USA where he has worked with ever more powerful telescopes in X-rays and across the entire electromagnetic spectrum. He has proposed models for the inner workings of quasars, which are supermassive black holes lit up by gas pouring down towards them. More recently he has begun to work on the problems of asteroid mining, inspired by the need to bring down the cost of the next generation of telescopes in space.

Dr. Elvis has published almost 400 papers in refereed journals and, with nearly 25,000 citations. He is one of the 250 most Highly Cited Researchers in astronomy and space physics, as determined by ISI. He has served as Chair of the High Energy Division of the American Astronomical Society and as Chair of the Space Telescope Users Committee. The asteroid 9283Martinelvis is named after him.


The Proposed NEOCAM spacecraft
Martin Elvis - How Many Ore Bearing Asteroids?
Martin Elvis and Thomas Esty - How Many Assay Probes to Find One Ore Bearing Asteroid?
Elvis, McDowell, Hoffman and Binzel - Ultra-Low Delta-v Objects and the Human Exploration of the Asteroids
NASA - General Information on Asteroids
REXIS - The Regolith X-Ray Imaging Spectrometer

The NEAR mission
The X-Ray/Gamma-Ray Spectrometer on NEAR
Planetary Resources: Asteroid Composition
The Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics

The NEOCAM sensor
NEOCAM (.pdf file)
Mainzer, et. al., Survey Simulations of a New Near-Earth Asteroid Detection System

Season 2 - Episode 8: Incoming Asteroid!
Season 1 - Episode 8: Cosmik Debris

Chandra X-Ray Observatory


Host and Producer: Paul Carr
Guest: Martin Elvis
Music: DJ Spooky, Jason Robinson, Erika Lloyd

The spoken content of this podcast is distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License. All music is performed with the permission of the artists.

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