The 16 Psyche asteroid will be visited by NASA astronauts. This asteroid was discovered approximately a hundred years ago, being considered a unique one. The 16 Psyche asteroid is the biggest one in the asteroid belt located between 2.9 and 3.3 astronomical units. This unusual size determines NASA scientists to plan and fund a mission of about seven years to visit the asteroid to develop the further analysis.
- NASA plans to visit the 16 Psyche asteroid in October 2023.
- The Psyche mission was estimated to cost around $450 million.
- This asteroid is known to be the only one of its kind from the asteroid belt.
NASA has recently selected two missions meant to analyze the early solar system. The missions were named Psyche and Lucy. Lindy Elkins-Tanton, the principal investigator of Psyche, stated in a report developed by Jet Propulsion Laboratory that this represents an excellent opportunity to analyze a different type of world from the icy or rocky planets. The 16 Psyche is known to be the only celestial object of this type in the solar system.
It is an asteroid located between Mars and Jupiter. Scientists believe that this represents the core of an early planet. Planets formed over time as celestial objects collided in the early solar system. When it comes to Psyche, researchers claim that the outer rocky layer was damaged, leaving only the core. NASA has announced that it is planning this mission back in January, estimating the costs at about $450 millions.
The mission is scheduled to occur in October 2023. NASA plans to send a solar-electric propelled spaceship to analyze 16 Psyche in progressively smaller orbits. However, the craft will not land. It will be loaded up with numerous instruments to observe the asteroid on the outside, but also on the inside. Magnetometers will be used to establish whether 16 Psyche asteroid has the magnetic field expected for a planetary core.
Several cameras will photograph what scientists expect to be a particular surface topography. Spectrometers attached on the spacecraft will confirm the elements which are part of the structure of the asteroid by examining the neutrons and gamma rays emitted by it. Scientists have recently unveiled that silicate rocks represent 10% of the surface of Psyche.
NASA specialists argued that this mission should offer scientists everywhere a glimpse into the early times of a solar system, being able to find out more about the process of planet formation, seeing captures of the world different from all the others seen before.
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