The treasure of all treasures is not hidden somewhere here on earth. It’s not a long lost pirate loot, a gold mining site, or a digital wallet with 1000 bitcoins bought in 2010 for $0.08, and which are now worth $1.5 billion if you can crack its password.
If you want to make more money than the combined riches of the entire world, all you need to do is look to the heavens and get your hands on an asteroid, a moon, or a planet in outer space.
One asteroid, in particular, is a monstrous lottery ticket but even the moon, today a stone’s throw away, has plenty of gold to retire you and your families for hundreds of generations to come.
Let’s begin with a monster asteroid, shall we?
Big money on the move
Meet “16 Psyche.”
About 370 million kilometers from Earth, Psyche is one of the most massive objects in the Solar System’s main asteroid belt orbiting between Mars and Jupiter.
It’s about 226 kilometers-wide and—unlike most asteroids, which are rocky or icy, Psyche appears to be metallic, totally made of iron and nickel according to a recently published paper in the Planetary Science Journal.
Due to launch in August 2022 from Florida’s Kennedy Space Center atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, NASA’s Psyche mission is part of its Discovery Program of low-cost robotic space missions.
The orbiter is due to arrive at Psyche in January 2026 to begin at least 21 months in orbit mapping and studying the asteroid’s properties.
Where is the money?
Peter Diamandis, founder of the non-profit X Prize Foundation and a renowned longevity expert, told the International Space Development Conference, “There are $20-trillion checks up there, waiting to be cashed!”
These cosmic cash cows are so-called Near-Earth asteroids that contain a wide range of precious resources. Small asteroids temporarily captured in orbit around Earth are believed to be 1-2 meters in size and traveling at significant speeds.
$20 trillion is the estimated market value of a relatively small metallic asteroid that was first calculated by John S. Lewis in his book ‘Mining The Sky: Untold Riches from the Asteroids, Comets, and Planets.’
Earth may have one moon we can see, but a flock of much smaller “mini-moons” could end up being far more valuable for both scientific and commercial purposes.
Faster moving and far harder to spot, the mini-moons are typically only temporary visitors in orbit.
While the theory is there, actually identifying mini-moons has been a whole lot harder. We’re still not exactly experts at tracking temporary visitors closer to home. Indeed only one such mini-moon has actually been identified so far: 2006 RH120, a few meters in diameter.
Diamonds may be rare on Earth, but surprisingly common in space. They are only a nanometer (a billionth of a meter) in size.
Scientists began to seriously ponder the presence of diamonds in space in the 1980s when studies of meteorites that crashed into Earth revealed lots of tiny nanometer-sized diamonds.
3% of all carbon found in meteorites came in the form of nanodiamonds.
If meteorites are a reflection of the dust content in outer space, calculations show that just a gram of dust and gas in a cosmic cloud could contain as many as 10,000 trillion nanodiamonds.
Black diamonds have always been different than other diamonds, not just in color, but also in composition. Conventional diamonds are mined from the Earth, formed by explosive volcanic rocks.
Known as Carbonado diamonds, black diamonds are not compatible with any of the conventional diamonds. Not only that: around 600 tons of conventional diamonds have been mined since 1900, but no black diamonds have been discovered within a mine.
That’s because they come from outer space. Carbondo diamonds formed in stellar supernovae explosions and were once the size of asteroids, a kilometer or more in diameter when they first landed on the Earth.
According to researchers, a star the size of Earth has been discovered, composed entirely of diamonds. The star is called a white dwarf and has been cooling for about 11 billion years, and has gotten so cold that the carbon has crystallized, forming a huge diamond in space.
What’s most impressive is a diamond planet. It’s a massive 10 billion trillion trillion carat diamond known as a “super-Earth” and named 55 Cancri e. Its surface temperature reaches a burning 3,900 degrees Fahrenheit (2,100 degrees Celsius). And at least one-third of this planet is composed of pure diamond.
A 2009 NASA mission revealed that the lunar surface contains an array of compounds, including gold, silver, and mercury, according to PBS.
Beginning in 2020, a space exploration company called Moon Express is planning regular flights to the moon in pursuit of gold and other rare materials worth trillions of dollars, according to The Sun newspaper.
There’s gold above the earth’s crust, but also below it. To date, about 244,000 metric tons of gold has been discovered, reports the U.S. Geological Survey. The amount of gold found by miners has plunged 85% over the last decade, notes Bloomberg Market.
There are about 57,000 tons left to be mined.
Researchers have discovered a new, exotic class of planets outside our solar system. These so-called super-Earths were formed at high temperatures and contain massive amounts of sapphire and ruby.