Gamma Spectroscopy for Asteroid Mining

Asteroids are constantly awash in a bath of cosmic rays which produce neutron showers when they collide with atoms in the material of the asteroids. The neutrons in turn collide with other particles, giving off gamma rays in the process. Spectrum analysis of the gamma radiation can determine which elements were involved in the collisions and present in the material.

Semiconductor detectors made from germanium provide the highest resolution for gamma spectroscopy, but they require cryogenic temperatures (~80 degrees kelvin) and near vacuum pressures. Since these conditions are commonplace in space operations, germanium detectors will be desirable. Providing a directed beam of stimulating radiation that can be shielded from unwanted interactions with the detector might improve the analysis process further and help asteroid miners to assess the potential value of a mining effort before it begins.

New detector perfect for asteroid mining, planetary research – [vanderbilt.edu]

The technological development is a new generation of gamma-ray spectroscope that appears perfectly suited for detecting veins of gold, platinum, rare earths and other valuable material hidden within the asteroids, moons and other airless objects floating around the solar system – just the type of “sensor” that will be needed by asteroid miners to sniff out these valuable materials.

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