Luxembourg just announced plans to launch an asteroid mining rig into orbit

Prospector-X may sound like a money-hungry comic-book villain, but it’s actually a spacecraft that might one day mine asteroids. The craft (which is still just a concept at this point) is the fruit of a partnership between asteroid mining company Deep Space Industries and Space Resources, an asteroid mining initiative developed by the government of Luxembourg. The group announced this week that they’ll soon launch Prospector-X into Earth’s orbit to test resource extracting technologies.

Asteroid mining is still a infantile industry. Our first probes landed on a comet just at the end of 2014. But countries like Luxembourg and the United States are gearing up for a competitive race to the asteroids within our reach, as they contain resources like water and minerals. Luxembourg has aimed to be Europe’s leading asteroid miner, while last year President Obama signed a bill that gave companies permission to mine –and own– resources harvested from outer space, asteroids included. Companies cannot stake claim to the asteroids themselves however.

The Outer Space Treaty of 1967 likewise prohibits countries from owning any extraterrestrial body, such as an asteroid or planet, according to Popular Science. That means the U.S. and Luxembourg cannot claim an asteroid as their own. However, a loophole in the treaty –which states “space shall be free for exploration an use by all States”– may give the country enough leeway to claim the asteroid’s resources. 

Luxembourg’s Prospector-X will spend most of its time in low orbit to test its technology — and it won’t be alone. Last year, American asteroid mining company Planetary Resources launched its own spacecraft into orbit to test its sensors and navigation technologies, and to prepare future spacecraft’s for deep space flight.

On Luxembourg’s Space Resources website, the country responds to questions about the legality their outer space goal by drawing a comparison between asteroid mining and deep sea fishing. “Fisherman don’t own the water and they don’t own the fish,” they write, “but they have the right to put the nets into the water and bring the fish onto the decks, and once the fish are there, they own the fish.”

Emerging Tech

Ancient crater the size of NYC discovered under the Greenland ice sheet

A huge crater has been discovered beneath the ice of Greenland, and is thought to be the result of a meteorite impact millions of years ago. The crater is one of the largest ever discovered, measuring 19 miles across.

How does fast charging work? Here’s every single standard compared

Modern smartphones can charge in mere minutes instead of hours. How does fast charging work? Here's a guide to the most popular standards, including Qualcomm Quick Charge, Apple fast charging, OnePlus Dash Charge, and more.
Movies & TV

Stay inside this fall with the best shows on Hulu, including 'Castle Rock'

It's often overwhelming to navigate Hulu's robust library of TV shows. To help, we've put together a list of the best shows on Hulu, whether you're into frenetic cartoons, intelligent dramas, or anything in between.
Emerging Tech

Stronger than steel, thinner than paper, graphene could be the future of tech

Since its discovery, graphene has set the research world on fire. What exactly is it, though, and what could it mean for the future of tech? Here's everything you need to know about what could be the next supermaterial to take center stage.
Emerging Tech

Prepare for liftoff: Here are all the important upcoming SpaceX rocket launches

From ISS resupply missions to a host of communication and scientific satellite launches, SpaceX has a busy year ahead. Here's a rundown of some of the company's most important missions slated for the next year.
Emerging Tech

Here’s how the InSight mission to Mars will confirm its landing to NASA

NASA's InSight mission has sent a lander to Mars. NASA researchers have now shared details on how they will monitor the touching down of the lander at the end of its 91 million mile journey.
Emerging Tech

Would you swap your keycard for a microchip implant? For many, the answer is yes

Put down your keycard! More people are turning to implanted RFID chips as their choice of workplace identification. Should we be worried about a world in which employees get microchipped?

‘Super magnesium’ may be the next wonder material for outdoor gear

Super Magnesium is a wonder material that is 30 percent lighter than aluminum, as strong as carbon fiber, cheaper to make, and 100-percent recyclable, making it much better for the environment.
Emerging Tech

Forget joysticks — the Guts Game is controlled by a sensor that you swallow

Researchers have created an unusual new game in which players swallow a biosensor and then compete to raise or lower the temperature in their gut. Sound crazy? Here's why it could catch on.
Emerging Tech

Step inside the Nepalese restaurant staffed by robot waiters

A robotics startup from Nepal has created a robot waiter called Ginger. It's capable of delivering food from kitchen to table, and can even engage customers in a bit of friendly banter as it does so.
Emerging Tech

Doctors could soon ditch stitches and seal skin wounds with lasers

Just like the dermal regenerator in Star Trek, physicians may soon be able to heal skin wounds using smart, laser-based technology. That's thanks to researchers from Arizona State University.
Emerging Tech

From tornado flushes to remote controls, modern toilets are flush with tech

With the global observance of World Toilet Day on November 19, we take a look at how the modern toilet in our homes and businesses have evolved, and how they are becoming smarter tools in the future.
Emerging Tech

NASA selects the all-important landing site for its Mars 2020 rover mission

NASA said on Monday that the landing site for its much-anticipated Mars 2020 rover mission has the potential to "revolutionize how we think about Mars and its ability to harbor life."
Emerging Tech

NASA’s ‘space wheat’ is helping earthbound farmers grow crops quicker

Could NASA technology for growing plants on other planets help farmers improve crop yield here on Earth? According to researchers in Australia and the U.K., the answer is a resounding yes.