This space tech could speed up – and clean up – critical mineral exploration
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Start-up Fleet Space Technologies has just launched the GeoSphere, which it says could “revolutionise” the way critical resources are discovered.
Essentially, the GeoSphere combines geodes with a constellation of Low Earth Orbit (LEO) nanosatellite connectivity and intelligent cloud processing to generate 3D subsurface models – which helps companies explore for copper, gold, cobalt, nickel, lithium and other critical minerals.
And co-founder Matt Pearson says the Aussie tech has a key role to play in the transition to green energy and cleaner industrial operations, with its ability to discover critical minerals up to 100 times faster than traditional methods.
“The IMF predicts that in just two decades more than US$13 trillion worth of the four major energy transition minerals must be mined to reach net zero ambitions,” he said.
“This requires more sustainable, faster and economically viable exploration practices.
“In GeoSphere we have created the answer by unlocking the power of global connectivity through Fleet’s network of small satellites.”
The company has a foothold in the global space sector which is grown more than 50% in the last decade to US$447 billion – and could be worth $1 trillion within the decade according to Morgan Stanley.
And the GeoSphere is already up and running, working in tandem with non-invasive probes that rapidly scan beneath the earth to identify sources of critical resources.
“This removes the need for invasive drilling practices, significantly reduces cost and can speed up discoveries more than 100-fold,” Pearson says.
“We are proud to enable this critical step in mining to provide better access to the resources we need to make a better future for humanity.”
It sounds impressive, much like this video from their website which doesn’t give much info but makes you feel like you’re watching a poor man’s Interstellar.
The tech allows deposits of copper, nickel, cobalt, gold and lithium can now be discovered through a 50sqkm grid of satellite-enabled Geodes, which can be easily installed by small, local teams.
The Geodes are hand-transportable sensors which contain a sophisticated processing unit, satellite transmitter and a seismic sensor.
They use the principles of seismology to map the properties of the Earth’s subsurface from reflected seismic waves by recording ambient noise – a process known as Ambient Noise Tomography (ANT).
Once ANT data is gathered, Geodes partially process the raw information on site, and this streamlined volume of data is securely pushed to Fleet Space’s existing network of low-power small satellites.
The small sat then automatically sends the information to ground stations and delivers a full 3D visualisation of the subsurface down to 2km depth.
And Fleet Space can deliver a clear, rich image of what resources are below ground that can be generated in as little as four days. Ordinarily, ANT takes 6-12 months to return a conclusive result.
Reducing the time required to process data allows explorers to make informed decisions on areas of interest much faster than traditional methods.
Plus, the technology also reduces the requirement for environmentally damaging elements of existing surveyance practices such as the use of explosives, noise machines and drilling, which the company says makes it a passive, non-destructive technique to assess site viability for mineral and material deposits.