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Mining the Sky: Untold Riches From The Asteroids, Comets, And Planets

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  225 ratings  ·  17 reviews
While we worry over the depletion of the earth's natural resources, the pollution of our planet, and the challenges presented by the earth's growing population, billions of dollars worth of metals, fuels, and life-sustaining substances await us in nearby space. In this visionary book, noted planetary scientist John S. Lewis explains how we can mine these precious metals fr ...more
Paperback, 274 pages
Published September 23rd 1997 by Basic Books (first published 1996)
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4.13  · 
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 ·  225 ratings  ·  17 reviews

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The Fat Astronaut
Jul 18, 2009 rated it really liked it
John S. Lewis is a professor of planetary science at the University of Arizona. His expertise on the composition and chemistry of asteroids and comets really shines through in this book. The premise of the book is to explore the possibilities of a self sufficient space program. Lewis argues that with initial investment in some properly planned space missions, in contrast to the flags and footprints missions of the Apollo program, a reasonably profitable space economy can be set up. He explores t ...more
Jan 09, 2012 rated it liked it
- Disorganized. Last two chapters are disconnected from the rest of the book.

- The depth disappoints me. Instead of discussing the barriers of Solar Power Satellites (SPS) and possible technological advancements that can possibly overcome them, the author focuses on how useful SPS can be to humankind. Issues of reducing space launching cost and possibility of near-future propelling systems, which are critical, are ignored. Power generations are assumed to be trivial without a detailed discussio
Very good. This book is a companion to the same author's book Rain of Iron and Ice, which is about the history and threat of comet and asteroid impacts on Earth, and both books were published in 1996. Although that would seem to make this dated, as with the other book it actually boosts Dr. Lewis' credibility, because events since then have pretty much borne out his expectations regarding the makeup of the rest of our solar system.

Mining the Sky is the positive or "heads" side of the same metaph
Steve Van Slyke
Oct 09, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: geology, space
The most interesting thing for me was his compelling argument that NEO's (asteroids and expired comets in orbits that cross Earth's) are much more attractive for resource extraction than the moon. First, the valuable materials--metals and water--are more highly concentrated in the NEO's and second they are less expensive to travel to and from because of their significantly lower gravity than the moon. (Could it be that Obama's space advisers were influenced by Lewis in their decision to promote ...more
Jun 09, 2018 rated it really liked it
Mining the Sky: Untold Riches from Asteroids, Comets and Planets (1996) by John S Lewis is an interesting but quite heavy going look at the resources available in the solar system that could be extraced. Lewis is Professor Emeritus at the University of Arizona's Lunar and Planetary Laboratory.

The book systematically looks at the resources available in the moon, asteroids and on other planets and points out that the potential is staggering, enough minerals, metals and energy to provide all the re
Mar 29, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: book-real

I tried I really did. I love the ideas being discussed and the science ... but then I learned that the author is a climate-change denialist (as a result of his conversion to Mormonism), and while this shouldn't affect the physics of the science he's writing about ... it just caused me to fall out of interest in his writing and ideas.

edited to add ... I would love to be shown to be wrong about Dr. Lewis. And maybe denialist is not the right word .. skeptic may be better.
Jan 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
What begins with an outdated feel (this book is already 20 years old) ends in an incredibly optimistic and logical vision for the future. I urge the reader to power through the technical jargon of the first few chapters, the reason behind the 4/5 star rating I am giving it, in order to access the vision of John S. Lewis, and challenge him or her not to be disturbed by the apparent facility of moving to outer space.

With the hindsight provided by 20 years of posterity, clearly some of John S. Lew
Jonathan Jeckell
Jul 14, 2014 rated it really liked it
This should have been an easy five stars for me, as enthusiastic as I am about the topic and how well he made the argument throughout most of the book (which troubles me about the objectiveness of my other reviews). 90+% of the book is fantastic, clear, and insightful. But the first sign of trouble was the vignette at the beginning of Chapter 14 where he portrayed average people in a harsh, unnecessary, and harmful way to his argument. Then he does it again a few chapters later strongly implying ...more
Charlie George
Oct 30, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Space enthusiasts and futurists
Very engaging summary of asteroids and their extraordinary utility to any space endeavour. Not to mention some motivating factors to get us to that point, such as the threat of annihiliation by a Near Earth Asteroid or comet and large-scale solar power satellites as a future energy source. Lewis does come across as a dyed-in-the-wool, market-will-solve-everything capitalist, but I'm willing to forgive him that in light of his singularly insightful and well-presented argument for "mining the sky" ...more
Orgon Solo
Feb 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Mining th Sky is a fascinating geological survey of outer space. How much gold nd diamonds can we expect to dig out of the asteriod belt, how could we most efficiently build moon settlements, or wether it is neccesary. The book thinks asteroids are more viable economically than the planets. ts a decent enough read if you are interested in outer space buisness for sure, and the world could need more like this. What drags it down a little is that the author interjects the chapters with his own par ...more
Bradley Mazurek
Oct 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
As someone that is both an optimist and ponders potential futures of humanity, this book provides great insight into the the potential right in our backyard (cosmically speaking). I loved the way it unleashed my imagination into what is possible for our species if we can get our act together.
Robert Garcia
Nov 27, 2015 rated it it was ok
A very odd mix of science, fiction, and political discussion that is difficult at times to complete. The author should have stuck with the science where he seems more comfortable.
David Seymour
Aug 14, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I found this book very enjoyable to read and opened up many new possible ideas for space that I hadn't thought about before.
Jun 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: outer-space
I loved this book, it offers an optimistic future that I hope humanity can one day achieve. If we can keep from destroying ourselves I think it is inevitable that we will explore the universe.
Clay Davis
Dec 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I liked the idea of a gold rush to space.
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John S. Lewis (born June 27, 1941) is a Professor Emeritus of planetary science at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory. His interests in the chemistry and formation of the solar system and the economic development of space have made him a leading proponent of turning potentially hazardous near-Earth objects into attractive space resources.