After conquering the deepest point on Earth, is James Cameron turning his sights to outer space?

According to information revealed in a press release for a new company called Planetary Resources, the 57-year-old explorer and filmmaker is listed as a founder and financial backer along with some other deep-pocketed entrepreneurs like Google co-founders Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, Ross Perot Jr. and former Microsoft exec Charles Simonyi.

The company plans to unveil "what the next great advancement of humanity will be" during a three-hour event on April 24 at the Charles Simonyi Space Gallery in Seattle, Wash. For now, they're promising that Planetary Resources will merge "space exploration and natural resources — to add trillions of dollars to the global GDP."

"This innovative start-up will create a new industry and a new definition of 'natural resources,'" the release teases.

So what are we talking about here? MIT's Technology Review is speculating that the venture may focus on asteroid mining. agrees, saying that X Prize founder Peter Diamandis (and new Planetary Resources co-chairman) has spoken previously about mining for resources in space. From the site:

In 2005, Diamandis appeared at TED describing an extraterrestrial environment where "everything we hold of value on this planet — metal and minerals and real estate and energy" are available in "infinite quantities." He specifically singled out asteroid mining, claiming that he could finance mining a "20 trillion dollar" asteroid full of nickel-iron alloy by speculating in the precious metals market.

Whatever it is, we're certainly intrigued. If you can't make the news conference next week, the event will be streamed online. Click here for more details.

Also on MNN: 10 alternative sources of unconventional energy

Michael d'Estries ( @michaeldestries ) covers science, technology, art, and the beautiful, unusual corners of our incredible world.

Is asteroid mining James Cameron's next venture?
'Avatar' director and explorer listed as a backer of Planetary Resources, which promises to merge 'space exploration and natural resources.'