Asteroids contain gold, but to get it, microbes will have to go where no microbe has gone before.
Experiments on the International Space Station have shown that the “biomination” process will work in microgravity conditions, in a discovery that could help the first space settlers collect the minerals they need to build colonies beyond Earth.
On Earth, microbes are used in some mines as an environmentally friendly way to access metals. They digest the rock and what remains are the metals that the miners need.
“If we want to establish permanent settlements on other planets, we need elements,” said Charles Cockell of the University of Edinburgh. “We need iron for the rovers, rare earth elements for the electronics.”
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