2008 Asimov Debate: Mining the Sky main content.

2008 Isaac Asimov Memorial Debate: Mining the Sky

The engineering, economics, and ethics of exploiting the Solar System's natural resources.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Planets, moons, asteroids, and comets contain natural resources such as water, minerals, and trace elements that may have survival value to visiting astronauts and economic value to life on Earth. How did we learn of these materials? How would one go about mining them? Who owns these resources, if anyone? And should they be mined at all?

Join moderator Dr. Neil deGrasse Tyson, the Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium, as we explore and debate the frontier of this subject with a panel of experts drawn from planetary science, aerospace engineering, environmental engineering, and space law.


  • John S. Lewis—Professor, Lunar and Planetary Lab, University of Arizona; expert in Cosmochemistry planetary atmospheres
  • Cassie Conley—Acting Planetary Protection Officer, NASA Headquarters; expert in international guidelines to prevent biological contamination while exploring the solar system
  • Murray W. Hitzman—Charles F. Fogarty Professor of Economic Geology, Colorado School of Mines; expert in deposit- and district-scale mapping of mineral deposit formation
  • Henry R. Hertzfeld—Research Professor of Space Policy and International Affairs, Elliott School of International Affairs, The George Washington University; expert on legal and economic issues of space and high technology industries.
  • Curtis Manning—Engineer at NASA's Marshall Space Flight Center, expert in the technology of converting space materials into usable hardware.

Host & Moderator

  • Neil deGrasse Tyson—Astrophysicist and The Frederick P. Rose Director of the Hayden Planetarium.