An asteroid which is set to make an uncomfortably close pass by the Earth on Friday would be worth $195 billion if we could capture it and mine its resources, investors have suggested. - Michael Rundle, Huffington Post
The other day, A group of investors came to me; "So exactly what's on Asteroid 2012 D414 to make it so gosh-darn valuable," is what they wanted to know. You should have seen Warren Buffett; he was in a regular tizzy. "I mean, $194 billion, I could see, maybe, but $195? That's a lot of mozallas. I'd like a piece of that action, kid." Warren has been watching a lot of vintage gangster movies on TCM, and lately it's been affecting his speech.
So to start with, some basic facts about Asteroid 2012 D141, or as it's sometimes nicknamed, just 'Roid 14. 'Roid 14 measures .5 FF, or one half a football field, football fields being the standard unit of measure for asteroids, just as golf balls are the standard unit for hailstones. Like most asteroids, 'Roid 14 is mostly ice; what's unusual in this case is it's iced Starbucks Coffee, which jacks up the retail value a couple of billion right there. The entire surface of the asteroid is covered with a thin crust of Super Bowl Tickets and iPhones, and below that are Flat Screen TVs and designer handbags.
Last year an asteroid went by, Asteroid 2011 E229, which we just called Ralph, which was pretty valuable, made up, as it was, of all those socks that have gone missing from dryers over the past century, but Ralph was nothing compared to 'Roid 14.
The trick is, getting there. It's going to pass within 17,000 miles, and you'd think, "Piece of cake. I commute that far every week." But this 17,000 miles is straight up, which means, for example, you won't be able to take your Prius, which is going to add to the fuel cost. On top of that, it'll be whipping by somewhere between 180 miles and 1260 miles a minute. Our miners won't have long to work, so there won't be any coffee breaks.
Still. It might be worth it. On top of the loot I've already mentioned, scientists believe there may be Van Gogh paintings and Ming Dynasty vases and frozen thin mint Girl Scout cookies. The cookies aren't that valuable, I admit, but I for one can never get enough of those things. They're just delicious.