Resources are valuable commodities sold on the open market. Successful miners can rake in the space bucks by gathering precious minerals, elements and complex organic molecules and other chemicals present in rocks floating in young and middle aged solar systems. The highest concentration of asteroids are in nebulaic systems with at least one protostar.
There are two common methods of mining asteroids in deep space.
By firing missiles or energy weapons at an asteroid, an asteroid may be fragmented and small debris can be collected by the ship's nano-hull. This is known among offworld miners as 'scat mining', and is not a professional grade of mining. This method is wasteful but does work in a pinch and can help miners who are down on their luck and don't have an expensive tractor beam at their disposal. Projectile weapons that rely on conventional arms (bullets) usually have no effect on asteroids due to deflection and glancing.
Above: A scat mining ship (blue and green color, lower left of image) centers itself on a huge asteroid. Note that the weapons are fired inward to avoid the asteroid flying off in one direction or another. Small fragments are seen to the right and behind the ship which may be small enough for the nano-hull to absorb.
Below: The large asteroid accumulated damage from the ship's weapons until it reached critical volatility and ejected mass converted to superphotonic and electromagnetic emissions, resulting in the vaporization of the outer surface (regolith) of the asteroid. The inner core is now visible, presumably a super-dense material. This core is already partially volatile and can be fired upon to fragment it further, or the miner could wait until the core cools to slightly increase the amount of salvagable ore.
- By using a tractor beam in "mining mode" which shatters and collects the fragments as efficiently as possible. Tractor beams vary in strength and are a simple modification to most common beam emitters, however, tractor beams that are manufactured as such receive special bonuses to efficiency. This means both specialty tractor beams and regular beam weapons can be used for this purpose.