Asteroid mining is the exploitation of raw materials from asteroids and other minor planets, especially near-Earth objects. Minerals and volatiles could be mined from an asteroid or spent comet, then used in space for in-situ resource utilization or taken back to Earth. These asteroid resources could potentially be used to support human space colonization, and to help to alleviate resource constraints on Earth. The concept of asteroid mining has been around for decades, and it is currently being pursued by both private companies and government agencies. Some of the key technical challenges that need to be overcome in order to make asteroid mining a reality include developing the necessary spacecraft and robotic technology to locate, rendezvous with, and extract resources from asteroids, as well as developing the infrastructure and logistics needed to transport the extracted materials back to Earth or to other locations in space. There are also a number of legal and regulatory issues that need to be addressed in order to make asteroid mining a viable industry. The Outer Space Treaty of 1967, for example, establishes the legal framework for the exploration and use of outer space, and it prohibits the national appropriation of celestial bodies. This means that countries cannot claim ownership of asteroids or other celestial bodies, but it does not necessarily prevent individuals or private companies from extracting resources from them.
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