The Gold Standard in Space
Gold is a “vital strategic resource” in space, NASA says.
Many satellites carry gold-coated mylar sheets to protect them from solar heat, according to NASA. Meanwhile, a thin layer of gold on an astronaut’s helmet visor deflects solar radiation. And satellite microelectronics that send data around the world rely on gold components to ensure reliable, corrosion-resistant, and static-free performance, NASA says.
Golden Opportunity on the Moon
The moon isn’t so barren after all.
A 2009 NASA mission—in which a rocket slammed into the moon and a second spacecraft studied the blast—revealed that the lunar surface contains an array of compounds, including gold, silver, and mercury, according to PBS.
Beginning in 2020, a space exploration company called Moon Express is planning regular flights to the moon in pursuit of gold and other rare materials worth trillions of dollars, according to The Sun newspaper.
Back on Earth
There’s gold above the earth’s crust, but also below it. To date, about 244,000 metric tons of gold has been discovered, reports the U.S. Geological Survey. There may be more gold to mine, but no one can be sure how much gold is left or how hard it will be to dig up. The amount of gold found by miners has plunged 85 percent over the last decade, notes Bloomberg Market.
As far as the amount of gold that remains in the earth, the U.S. Geological Survey estimates that there are about 57,000 tons left to be mined. Compare that to the amount of gold that’s already been mined and what you’re left with is a cube that’s about 6 meters on each side. A cube that size would stand about as tall as an adult giraffe.
It’s no wonder that efforts are underway to mine gold from the Psyche asteroid and the moon!
Of all the minerals that are mined, none is more useful than gold, Geology.com says. That’s because gold conducts electricity, doesn’t tarnish, can be combined with other metals, can easily be melted and shaped, and has a brilliant luster.
Aside from the jewelry business, gold is used in the electronics, dental, medical, aerospace, and glassmaking fields, among others, according to Geology.com. And of course, it’s used to make gold coins and bars that retain their appeal and market attraction for decades, if not centuries. Historically, gold has been a long-term vehicle for storing wealth—an earthly source of wealth that’s out of this world.