# Opportunity: "Oooh, Shiny!"

The Opportunity Rover on Mars has found a shiny rock. Wouldnl’t it be funny if this turned out to be some “valuable” mineral, like gold or platinum?

In “The Man Who Sold the Moon”, Heinlein describes how Harriman started a rumor that the moon contained natural diamonds caused by meteor strikes, and then included a packet of diamonds on the first flight in order to add legs to the rumor. Of course, it turned out (in the story) that the moon * did * contain natural diamonds.

Needless to say, it would be hard to imagine the substance valuable enough to make it worth going to Mars to collect it. The cost would be in the billions or trillions of dollars per pound. Elemental metals, unless they were some kind of unobtanium that didn’t exist on Earth, would be completely uninteresting. Actual machined artifacts not of human origin, on the other hand, might be worth the trip.

On the other hand, if it were found that Mars has scads of gold for whoever gets there first, you better believe that there’d be all kinds of research into how to make the cost go down.

Barring the discovery of antigravity, I don’t see how you’d make it cost effective. The cost of gold right now (if I’ve done the math right) is about \$6100 per avoirdupois pound. The cost just of a single Mars mission is estimated at a half a trillion dollars. Even assuming you could just scoop the gold up the ground and put it in the trunk of your Mars Lander, you’d still need 41,000 * tons * of gold to make the trip worth while. But needless to say, moving 41,000 tons of anything is going to require some infrastructure. At the very least, you’d need a mass launcher to get the stuff from Mars orbit to Earth orbit. And then, getting the gold to the planet’s surface in some reasonable form would be … tricky.

Maybe there’s Atmospherium on Mars, after all, Mars, Marva, Mars, Marva, isnt it interesting how they sound interestingly like each other?

it’s interesting, i tell you, imagine what this could mean for the field of science, it could mean many important things

many of them good!

Isn’t there potentially a high energy material that’s been deposited on the Moon’s surface by solar winds? Conceivably, if Mars had that in spades . . .

Rowr.

Here we go . . . helium-3.

Maybe it’s Ice 9. That would explain where all the water went.

ohhhhh. What if it’s dilithium? Green Orion sex girls here we come!

Not to mention what 41,000 tons of gold would do to the gold market here on Earth…

The Barsoonian rays.

It would be creepy if it were Soylent Green.

When are the two Mars rovers going to meet each other for the ultimate battle bots?

They can pick a fight with the Viking lander.

I don’t think you could judge the value of precious materials by their value on Earth. I think a lot of rich people would pay a serious premium to sport some Martian rock or a Martian ring.

If they can sell Alaskan tourists earrings made from Moose droppings, then they could sell Martian dust, let alone precious stones and metals.

I personally would love the headlines, the excitement that would be created and the money spent if it turned out to be a giant prehistoric martian metalic turd!

Well, let’s see. They’re roughly 6,000 miles apart, more or less on opposite sides of the planet. And Spirit took roughly six months to cover the two miles to those hills it is currently exploring. Oh, let’s make it easy and say they head towards each other at a combined rate of a mile per month.

Assuming no mechanical breakdowns, they should meet in a mere 500 years!

Do Not Taunt Shiny Mars Rock!!!