Nasa is planning to send out satellites in order to thoroughly study an asteroid that is worth more than $10,000 Quadrillion, containing enough precious metal that could make everyone on Earth a billionaire if divided out equally. Psyche 16 – first spotted back in March 1852 – is a 124-mile-wide space rock that will be the primary focus of Nasa’s project. The mission has been talked about for some time and was originally due to launch in August this year, however, it was hit by delays because of the need to review software.
The project itself is quite costly and will cost around $117 Million Dollars. As of October 2022, Psyche is scheduled to launch no earlier than October 10, 2023, on a Falcon Heavy vehicle. The cost of the launch, including the dual spacecraft secondary payloads, Janus (Serenity and Mayhem), is US$117 million. The independent review board is still finishing up its report, but Nasa has now confirmed that the mission to Psyche 16 will go ahead and it’s planning a launch period.
Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said:
“I appreciate the hard work of the independent review board and the JPL-led team toward mission success. The lessons learned from Psyche will be implemented across our entire mission portfolio. I am excited about the science insights Psyche will provide during its lifetime and its promise to contribute to our understanding of our own planet’s core.”
When it goes ahead, it will be the first exploration into a world of metal rather than rock and ice. The spacecraft would arrive at the asteroid four years after it sets off. A team in California previously created a new temperature map to help NASA understand the asteroid’s surface properties. Usually, infrared images of a space rock only provide a fragment of data equivalent to a single pixel, but researchers could get a 50-pixel resolution. Researchers from the study said at the time.
“The findings are a step toward resolving the mystery of the origin of this unusual object, which has been thought by some to be a chunk of the core of an ill-fated protoplanet”,
They discovered that its surface was made up of at least 30 percent metal, with further rocks on the surface containing metal grains.
Caltech’s Katherine de Kleer, assistant professor of planetary science and astronomy, added:
“We think that fragments of the cores, mantles, and crusts of these objects remain today in the form of asteroids. If that’s true, it gives us our only real opportunity to directly study the cores of planet-like objects.”
What Is Psyche 16, Asteroid? An Introduction
Psyche 16 is one of the most intriguing targets in the main asteroid belt. Psyche is a giant metal-rich asteroid, about three times farther away from the Sun than Earth. Its average diameter is about 140 miles (226 kilometers) – about one-sixteenth the diameter of Earth’s Moon or about the distance between Los Angeles and San Diego.
Astronomers on Earth have studied Psyche in visible and infrared wavelengths, as well as radar, which suggests Psyche is shaped somewhat like a potato.
Psyche orbits the Sun between Mars and Jupiter at a distance ranging from 235 million to 309 million miles (378 million to 497 million kilometers) from the Sun. That’s 2.5 to 3.3 Astronomical Units (AU), with 1 AU being the distance between Earth and the Sun. Psyche takes about five Earth years to complete one orbit of the Sun, but it takes just over four hours to rotate once on its axis (a Psyche “day”).