(Note: Inspired by Ken Murphy of Out of the Cradle)
If extraterrestrials were (un)fortunate enough to visit our rowdy planet, they would realize that our civilization is powered by death. For our civilization to survive, to expand, and to literally keep the lights on our species must harvest the compressed liquid of billions of dead things–also known as fossil fuels.
While alternative energy sources such as solar, wind and “bio-fuel” do exist, they may not be enough to keep up with the future energy demand (hat tip: Life After the Oil Crash) of our ever growing population.
With energy supplies on Earth finite at best, some individuals have looked beyond the heavens above in order to satisfy our “energy cravings” below.
By simply constructing solar powered satellites (aka SPS) above our blue world, proponents argue that we would be able to not only meet energy demand, but hopefully create a greener environment at the same time.
(Video: A presentation to both Presidential Candidates of 2008 about the need to develop SPS for our planet).
Unfortunately one of the major obstacles to constructing an SPS is the cost of launching material into space, which may make an SPS unreasonable unless a space elevator is constructed (although by the time one is built, it may already be too late).
Since launching building material from Earth may be too expensive, our species may have to hunt for (and utilize) precious metals off world in order to reduce the cost of constructing these massive behemoths–which means future colonists may have to harvest not only lunar soil, but nearby asteroids as well.
While the Moon also contains other elements such as iron and aluminum (which could provide extra resources for constructing these massive solar panels), lunar colonists may prefer to harvest these elements elsewhere as both of these elements would have practical uses “lunar side” (iron for construction and aluminum for radiation shielding).
Instead of scouring the lunar surface in search of extra building material, humanity instead may choose to harvest nearby space rocks orbiting between our homeworld and the red planet–also known as Amor asteroids.
Unlike the asteroids located in the main belt, Amor asteroids orbit much closer towards Earth, with many of them traveling around in stable orbits.
While their proximity towards our Earthen cradle may make them attractive for scientists, its their abundance of minerals and metals that may make them priceless for space minors.
One Amor asteroid in particular, 433 Eros may have enough precious metals within its tiny frame to be worth trillions of dollars (which should provide more than enough material to construct several SPS’s in space–with cash to spare for financing the project as well).
Even though there are still many challenges to building an SPS (not to mention where to locate the rectenna), our species may have to wait until we begin to harvest our “local neighborhood” before we have enough funds to actually create these energy wonders (without bankrupting our civilization).
Note: Due to lack of time, images will be inserted later on.
Update: Images inserted (with credits given).