Psyche is a NASA mission expected to launch in 2022 that will explore a 140-mile (225 kilometers) metal asteroid called Psyche 16. No spacecraft has ever visited an object like 16 Psyche, which is believed to be the bare core of a destroyed planet. The mission is expected to provide important information on planetary formation.
Along with a mission called Lucy who will visit the primary asteroids near Jupiter, Psyche was approved in January 2017 as part of the NASA Discovery program. “This is what Discovery missions are all about – to boldly go to places we’ve never been to enable groundbreaking science,” said Thomas Zurbuchen, assistant administrator for NASA’s Science Missions Directorate in Washington, DC. statement at that time.
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Psyche: metal asteroid
Asteroid 16 Psyche, also referred to simply as Psyche, was only the 16th asteroid ever discovered, according to the mission information page from Arizona State University (ASU)… It was discovered in 1852 by the Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis, who named it after the ancient Greek goddess of the soul.
Psyche has a mass of about 440 billion billion pounds (220 billion billion kilograms), which is 0.03% of the mass of our moon, according to data 2002 article in astronomy and astrophysics… it eleventh largest known asteroid in the solar system – although only a few hundredths of the mass of hippos such as Ceres and Vesta…
Connected: Why NASA is sending a spacecraft to a metal asteroid called Psyche
Unlike most bodies in the solar system, which are made up mostly of rocks, ice, or gas, Psyche is the size of Massachusetts. mostly metal – up to 95% nickel and iron, which is the same Core of the earth… This metallic nature makes the asteroid an attractive object as researchers speculate about how it could have formed.
According to one hypothetical scenario, 16 Psyche was once part of a protoplanet early in its existence. solar system the inner layers of which were divided into a rocky mantle and an iron core, according to ASU… Multiple violent collisions billions of years ago may have shattered this creature and robbed it of its appearance, leaving behind only a deformed piece of metal. Much of the Psyche spacecraft’s mission will scan the asteroid in search of clues that either confirm or disprove the story.
Psyche: NASA spacecraft
Psyche (probe) is 81 feet (24.76 m) long and 24 feet (7.34 m) wide, making it about the size of a tennis court with extended solar panels. ASU… The hull of the spacecraft, with all its instrumentation, is the size of a golf cart.
ASU the lists several instruments that the spaceship will carry. They include two high-resolution cameras and a spectrometer for determining the composition of the asteroid. In addition, Psyche will be equipped with a magnetometer to check if the body has a residual magnetic field, and an instrument to measure the asteroid’s gravitational field with high precision. The spacecraft is also equipped with sophisticated new laser communications technology that NASA hopes to use in future missions.
After launch in August 2022. on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocketThe Psyche probe will use low-thrust solar electric propulsion to guide gravitational assistance past Mars in 2023 and is expected to reach its target in 2026.
Connected: NASA’s mission to the strange metal asteroid Psyche is slated to launch in 2022
The mission plan calls for the Psyche spacecraft to spend 21 months orbiting the asteroid, taking the first images made mostly of metal. Using its tools, the probe will map and study the asteroid to help researchers determine how it came about.
Psyche’s data will help astronomers figure out how terrestrial planets form. It is difficult to observe the core of rocky planets such as Earth, because this structure lies well below the planet’s mantle and crust. Examining Psyche 16 up close, the researchers hope to understand better how collisions, accretion and time work to create worlds like ours.