Date: Friday 12th October | Time: 1.00pm – 2.00pm

Prof Ian Crawford

Ian Crawford is an astronomer turned planetary scientist, and is currently Professor of Planetary Science and Astrobiology at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is currently also a Vice-President of the Royal Astronomical Society. Ian’s research interests mainly concern the geology of the Moon, the identification of lunar resources, and the search for life in the universe. Further information can be found at: http://www.bbk.ac.uk/geology/our-staff/ian-crawford


Lecture synopsis

Extraterrestrial Resources: Mining the Moon and Asteroids

Professor Ian Crawford

Birkbeck College London

There is growing interest in the possibility that the resource base of the Solar System might in future be used to supplement the economic resources of our own planet. As the Earth’s closest celestial neighbour, the Moon is sure to feature prominently in these developments. In this talk I will review what is currently known about economically exploitable resources on the Moon, while also stressing the need for continued lunar exploration. Asteroids also represent a significant potential resource of raw materials, and many near-Earth asteroids (NEAs) are relatively easy to reach in energy terms and have very low surface gravities, which would minimise the cost of transferring materials extracted from them to locations where they can be used. I will argue that extraterrestrial resources are relevant to a hierarchy of future applications, beginning with the use of lunar and asteroidal materials to facilitate human activities in space (including scientific exploration), gradually evolving in scale to underpin a future industrial capability within the Earth-Moon system. In this way, gradually increasing access to space resources may help ‘bootstrap’ a space-based economy.