Asteroids are large space objects made of rock and ice. There are hundreds of thousands of asteroids in our solar system. Though we often hear ideas about establishing colonies of humans to live and work on our Moon or our neighboring planet, Mars, some think that sending people to an asteroid would actually be the best colonization option for a number of reasons.
To begin with, asteroids are often much smaller than planets, so they have lower gravity. When landing a spaceship, the craft would not be pulled as strongly or as forcefully toward the asteroid’s surface, making the landing safer than landing on the Moon or Mars; it would also allow a spacecraft to carry much more equipment needed to set up the colony. It would also be easier for the spacecraft to take off again, so the spaceship would need to carry considerably less fuel for the trip back to Earth.
Mining Valuable Metals
Next, some asteroids are rich in valuable elements and precious metals that are relatively rare on Earth, such as gold and platinum. An asteroid colony would be extremely profitable and a good source of these raw materials. The colonists or businesses sponsoring them could more than pay for the cost of their support by mining minerals and sending them back to Earth.
Easy to Reach
Finally, asteroids are a good option for colonization because some of them would be very easy to reach. There are a number of asteroids that periodically come within or near Earth’s orbit. Some of them actually get closer to Earth than our Moon. So these asteroids would be much easier and more affordable to get to and get back from than a planet like Mars, which would require a two-year trip in each direction.