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Published on Jul 19, 2015
An asteroid believed to contain up to $5.4 trillion worth of platinum will pass relatively close to Earth today. A small asteroid worth up to $5.4 trillion will pass relatively close to Earth tonight.
The asteroid, 2011 UW158, is thought to have a core that contains up to 90 million tons of platinum and other precious materials. The size, makeup and orbit of 2011 UW158 put it on the “short list” of asteroids targeted for robotic mining in the near future, according to the Slooh Community Observatory.
Planetary Resources is an asteroid-mining firm with financial backing from Google executives Eric Schmidt and Larry Page. The company has labeled 2011 UW158 as an ‘X-type’ asteroid suitable for mining and is interested in exploiting the asteroid both for the platinum it contains and possibly water—which may be even more valuable. They’ve catalogued dozens of similar prospects throughout the solar system.
2011 UW158 is about half a mile across and will pass Earth 30 times closer than Mars—or six times further away than the moon—so it won’t be visible to the naked eye.