Top Ten Near-Earth Asteroids for Mining

Mr. Gary Bickford's picture

This page presents the best candidates for asteroid mining, as determined by a variety of experts from the most recent data. Collecting data about asteroids for mining purposes requires cooperation among many parties, and diligent research. Some data comes from radio telescopes, some from optical telescopes.

This chart shows the data as the asteroids were ranked in the 2015 Integrated Space Plan poster at the time it was published. A few things have changed since then. Only a small percentage of known asteroids have been remotely assayed with enough precision to provide sufficient information for commercial purposes. New ones will rise up in the list as their prospects for commercial resource extraction (mining) improve.

SVG format chart of top ten asteroid mining candidates with JPL link

Orbit diagram for asteroid 4660 Nereus - JPL Small Bodies Database

Remote assay has been done using both optical and radio (microwave) frequency telescopes such as Arecibo Observatory in Puerto Rico. Radio frequency assays have somewhat different methodologies and can potentially investigate for one to two centimeters beneath the surface, below any probable coating of collected material.

Asterank, our primary source for this chart, provides an excellent resource, combining data from Jet Propulsion Laboratory and other sources, and using the data to estimate the value of the minerals available and the cost to get there, and compute a relative cost effectiveness number. In addition it shows excellent visualizations of the orbit for each asteroid.

Jet Propulsion Laboratory's Solar System Dynamics group's Small-body Database and Small-body Browser is also an excellent source, and Asterank's primary source as well.

As new data for existing and newly-discovered asteroids becomes available those numbers will of course change. The following chart shows the Asterank data as of February 15, 2017:

Asterank and other asteroid data as of 2/2017

NamePlanned MissionJPL URLWikipedia URLOther URL
1999 JU3 JPLWikipedia 
1989 ML JPLWikipedia 
1982 DB JPLWikipedia 
1999 RQ36OSIRIS-RexJPLWikipedia 
1996 GT JPLWikipedia 
2011 UW158
1973 EC JPLWikipedia 
2001 CC21 JPL  
2001 SG10 JPL  
2000 CE59 JPL  
1991 DB JPL  
2000 RW37 JPL  
Astronomical Bodies