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Two Asteroids Could Be Pumping Iron

Two asteroids orbiting near the Earth are composed of nickel and iron and may be promising sites for future space-mining expeditions.

Astronomers at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena determined the metallic composition of the asteroids by telescopic “spectroscopy,” a painstaking analysis of the color of light rays emitted by heavenly bodies.

The asteroids, discovered earlier this year, are about the same distance from Earth as the moon, but each asteroid has a different orbit, JPL scientists say.

JPL astronomer Robert Nelson predicts that 21st-Century astronauts will be able to land spacecraft on the asteroids, mine raw materials and take those materials back to space stations, where they can be used to maintain the stations as independent communities.

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