Hello Lutetia!

Quick update on what’s going on in Space right now. The European space probe Rosetta just flew by the biggest asteroid ever visited by a spacecraft and snapped some pictures.


This doesn’t just ROCK. This is HEAVY METAL!

The asteroid in question is called Lutetia. It’s around 100km in diameter and consists probably of… METAL. That’s one huge frigging chunk of metal if you ask me. It’s actually the first metal (M-class) asteroid ever visited by a spacecraft. Lutetia is also a bit weird because even though it’s supposed to consist of metal, previous observations haven’t found signs of metal on its surface. Maybe it’s covered with other stuff? Good thing we came over to find out!

You might ask yourself how come such a big chunk of metal floats in space. Well, that’s a funny story. The theory goes like this: When the solar system was young, it was full of smaller planets, so-called protoplanets. But because they were all over the place they started smashing into each other. Today’s planets are the only ones that survived. The rest got either smashed into pieces, fell into the sun, got ejected from the solar system or became part of today’s planets. Actually, one of the protoplanets is said to be responsible for the creation of the Moon.

So what does it have to do with Lutetia? Well, the theory goes that Lutetia is actually a chunk from the core of one of the smashed protoplanets. Some protoplanets collided, exploded into pieces and huge drops of magma from their molten metal cores cooled off and became the M-class asteroids. At least that’s the theory. Lutetia seems to have a more complicated history since it appears consist of other materials as well. And it’s not the biggest metal asteroid either. One I would REALLY like to see visited one day would be Psyche. It is 10 times as massive as Lutetia, has over twice the diameter and radar observations suggest that it is made pretty much entirely of iron and nickel. It is very probably an exposed metallic core of a former protoplanet.

Is that useful information for Sci-Fi? Well, both Asteroids are massive and huge. If they collided with Earth they would easily completely wipe out all life. To give you some perspective, the asteroid that probably killed the Dinosaurs was only around 10km in diameter, only one-tenth of Lutetia’s diameter.

M-Class asteroids could be a cool target to do asteroid mining. They consist of precious metals after all. But contrary to popular belief, bringing the resources back to Earth to sell them doesn’t make much sense. The transport costs would be prohibitive. You know, mining is not exactly a great way to make money nowadays. Instead, the metal could be used for construction of stuff in space. M-Class asteroids are rare so they could be a nice, scarce resource a conflict in a strategy game could center around.

So that’s it for today. The next time we are going to hear from Rosetta is 2014, when it will go into an orbit of a comet. I can’t wait!

Krystian Majewski

Krystian Majewski was born in Warsaw and studied design at Köln International School of Design. Before, he was working on a mid-size console project for NEON Studios in Frankfurt. He helped establish a Master course in Game Design and Research at the Cologne Game Lab. Today he teaches Game Design at various institutions and develops independent games.

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The Game Design Scrapbook is a second blog of group of three game designers from Germany. On our first blog, Game Design Reviews we describe some games we played and point out various interesting details. Unfortunately, we found out that we also need some place to collect quick and dirty ideas that pop into our minds. Hence, welcome to Game Design Scrapbook. You will encounter wild, random rantings. Many of then incoherent. Some of them maybe even in German. If you don't like it, you might enjoy Game Design Reviews more.


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