A newly unveiled company with some high-profile backers — including filmmaker James Cameron and Google co-founder Larry Page — has announced plans to mine near-Earth asteroids for resources such as precious metals and water.
Two of the resources the company plans to mine are platinum-group metals and water, Anderson said. Platinum-group metals — ruthenium, rhodium, palladium, osmium, iridium, and platinum — are found in low concentrations on Earth and can be tough to access, which is why they're so expensive. In fact, Anderson said, they don't occur naturally in Earth's crust, having been deposited on our planet over the eons by asteroid impacts.
"We're going to go to the source," Anderson said. "The platinum-group metals are many orders of magnitude easier to access in the high-concentration platinum asteroids than they are in the Earth's crust."