asteroid mining


Format 1: 202 x 132 cm / 79.5 x 52 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Format 2: 102 x 67 cm / 40.2 x 26.3 in, edition of 6 + 2 AP
Hybrid photography, archival pigment print, aludibond, diasec, custom-made aluminium frame

Water is the most abundant chemical compound in the Universe. It’s ubiquitous in our own solar system and fundamental to all life and business operations in space. Water is vital in supporting human habitation for things like drinking water, agriculture, radiation shielding, and oxygen. What’s more, water in the form of super-heated vapour can be used as a propellant. It can be broken down into its constituent parts – liquid hydrogen and oxygen – to be used as fuel. There are an estimated two trillion tonnes of water stored on near-Earth asteroids. Besides water, asteroid resources include all the materials planets are made of, offering an abundant supply of exactly what we need in space. Asteroids contain high quantities of important elements like organic carbon, sulphur, nitrogen, phosphorus, platinum and gold. The process of in-situ resource utilization – using materials native to space for propellants, thermal management, tankage, radiation shielding, and other high-mass components of space infrastructure – could help us in future to colonize our solar system. But water is the core resource that will support humans in space.

The artwork “asteroid mining” visualizes the idea of the future exploitation of raw materials, and especially water, from asteroids and other minor planets. It images the abundance of water in space with floating ice rocks and Eros, an asteroid whose orbit takes it somewhat close to Earth, as observed by NASA's Spitzer Space Telescope. If fuel made of water components could be manufactured and made available in space, it could be used to power aging satellites and other spacecraft that would otherwise be abandoned when their energy supplies run out, or to enable rockets to take off from Earth with less fuel, and then re-fuel in space. Asteroid-derived water could also be a resource both for consumption and for use as a radiation shield thus enabling longer manned space missions. Asteroid mining schemes are probably decades away from fruition, but they might become reality one day and help us further explore and colonize our solar system. Sourcing water is the first step in creating a civilization in space.


Personally liable:
Michael Najjar

Design concept & coding: Matthias Hübner,
with support by Marco Land

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