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Scientists know very little about the composition of asteroids. Most data used in our calculations come from the JPL's Small Body Database and the Minor Planet Center. The overwhelming majority of asteroids have no spectral classification and are missing other important data attributes. Without full information it is impossible to fully estimate the true value of an asteroid or the cost of mining it.
Asterank applies accurate, up-to-date information from world markets and scientific papers. To ensure realistic estimates, data from meteorites on Earth and known reference asteroids heavily influence our calculations.
As validation, our accessibility scores agree with numbers produced by a 2012 report on asteroid retrieval feasibility by Caltech's Keck Institute for Space Studies.
Value estimates are based on the mass of a given asteroid and its spectral type. Asteroid spectra is used to infer composition, which, in conjunction with current market prices, determine potential value.
Accessibility estimates are based primarily on delta-v, but it also incorporate orbital characteristics such as perihelion, aphelion, eccentricity, and period. The formula is biased toward low delta-v with orbits that maintain a generally consistent distance from the sun (ie., no objects that swing far into the belt).
Profit and ROI calculations are a combination of accessibility and value. The formula strikes a balance between high value and high distance and energy expenditure. Mining costs are factored in as a flat percentage of potential value.
A number of references, including:
A number of papers, books, and presentations on this subject, including: