Forget data mining, Google's bosses seem to have set their sights on far loftier goals – asteroid mining. Well, at least that's the assumption.
Later this April, a new company called Planetary Resources is set to reveal its purpose to an eagerly-awaiting public. The firm is backed by a host of star names, including Google's CEO Larry Page and Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, along with film director and aquatic explorer James Cameron and former Microsoft bigwig Charles Simonyi.
It's not surprising to see Google associated with big ideas, considering Google's driverless cars, Project Glass, and Google's secret lab dedicated to experimental ideas – Google X (and its spinoff, We Solve For X).
The details of what Planetary Resources will attempt are at this stage pretty sketchy – an invitation to the company launch – spotted by MIT's Tech Review – promises to “unveil a new space venture with a mission to ensure humanity's prosperity".
"The company will overlay two critical sectors - space exploration and natural resources - to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP."
Those details are enough to convince many that what's being proposed is an asteroid mining operation. And perhaps with good reason.
Planetary Resources is led by Peter Diamandis, founder of the X-Prize foundation, which offered a $10 million prize private-sector manned spaceflight.
Also on board is renowned space entrepreneur Eric Anderson. In 2010, Anderson gave a speech at the TEDGlobal 2010 conference promoting the idea that asteroid mining could be used to make commercial space travel profitable.
More recently, Diamandis has been giving his own TED talk. Earlier this year, he took to the stage promising his audience that mankind's future was one blessed with an abundance of resources – perhaps hinting at his ideas for where else we might look for precious minerals.
Keep watching the skies...