NASA’s Psyche mission will explore a unique metallic asteroid between Mars and Jupiter in 2022. The asteroid could contain metal from the core of an early rocky planet.
Psyche mission NASA
There aren’t many classes of objects left in the solar system that we haven’t looked at up close with a spacecraft. And one of them that’s left is the metal asteroids.
Psyche is an asteroid that orbits the sun between Mars and Jupiter. The Asteroid Psyche is unique because of its metal content. Psyche may be an early planetesimal remnant that was formed in the very, very beginnings of our solar system.
The Psyche mission is a journey to a unique metal-rich asteroid orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter that appears to be the exposed nickel-iron core of an early planet.
This mission will explore a previously unexplored element in planet formation, iron cores. We will discover a new type of world – a metal one.
During the mission, laser communication technology will be tested instead of radio waves.
The Psyche probe will examine the origin of planetary cores by studying metallic asteroid 16 Psyche. This asteroid may be the exposed iron core of a protoplanet. As a result of a collision with another object, its outer crust was removed.
The principal investigator is Linda Elkins-Tanton of Arizona State University in Tempe. It’s a NASA project run by Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
The launch is planned for July 2022 on a Falcon Heavy vehicle. The cost of the launch, including secondary payloads, is USD $117 million. Psyche will launch on a trajectory intended to Mars flyby on May 23, 2023. It will perform a gravity assist maneuver into the asteroid belt.