We met Professor Alec Gallimore, Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education at the Angell Hall Observatory to discuss the challenges and opportunities related to asteroid mining. The task of selecting promising asteroids and traveling to them is the first step in a complicated and vastly expensive operation. Precious metals, water and enabling deep space exploration are a few of the key motivators. In the long run, experts say space is going to be key to our advancement as a species. Asteroids may be our interstellar stepping stones along this path, and we’re already on the way.
About the Professor
Alec D. Gallimore is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor of Aerospace Engineering at the University of Michigan College of Engineering. As Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education in the College of Engineering, and a member of the Applied Physics graduate program, Professor Gallimore’s primary research interests lie in the Plasmadynamics and Electric Propulsion Lab (PEPL). His research includes electric propulsion, plasma diagnostics, space plasma simulation, electrode physics, nano-particle energetics and hypersonic aerodynamics/plasma interaction. He has extensive design and testing experience with a number of electric propulsion devices including Hall thrusters, ion thrusters, RF thrusters, microwave thrusters, arcjets, 100-kW-class steady MPD thrusters and multimegawatt pulsed coaxial plasma accelerators. He has implemented a variety of probe, microwave, and optical/laser plasma diagnostics, and has graduated 35 PhD students and 11 MS students in the fields of electric propulsion and plasma physics.