Inside NASA’s Trip to an Asteroid Worth 70,000 Times the World Economy

NASAassignment to An asteroid that could be worth 70,000 times the global economy It is expected to start this year.

The space agency decided back in 2017 that humanity would benefit from a closer look into space 16 Psychic. Psyche’s mission was originally scheduled to take place at the end of 2022 but it has already happened postpone Due to “development issues”. NASA now Plans to launch Psyche’s spaceship October. The ship should reach the highly valuable asteroid by August 2029.

Here’s everything we know so far about the Psyche asteroid, the upcoming Psyche mission, and the Psyche spacecraft.

What is Psych 16?

Artist’s concept of the 16 Psyche asteroid.


Named after the Greek goddess of the soul, Psyche was discovered by the Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis on March 17, 1852. The giant M-Type asteroid is believed to be the partial core of a small planet that did not fully form in its early days. from our solar system.

The mineral-rich asteroid is about the size of Massachusetts and shaped like a potato, according to astronomers. Their average diameter is about 140 miles – or roughly the distance between Los Angeles and San Diego. The asteroid orbits between Mars and Jupiter at a distance of 235 million to 309 million miles from the sun. (You can get a real-time simulated view of Psyche here.)

Study published Journal of Planetary Science The year 2020 shows that Psyche is made almost entirely of iron and nickel. This mineral composition sets it apart from other asteroids which are usually composed of rock or ice, and may indicate that it was originally part of a planetary core. Not only will it represent an important discovery, but also the key to the Psyche’s potential astronomical value: NASA scientist Lindy Elkins-Tanton calculates that The iron in asteroids alone can be worth up to $10,000 quadrillion dollars (Yes, you read that right). For context, the entire global economy is worth around $110 trillion at this writing. However, more Latest research from the University of Arizona suggests that the asteroid may not be as thick or dense as previously thought. The research claims that souls could actually be closer to piles of rubble, rather than exposed planetary cores. If true, it will reduce the value of the asteroid. NASA’s upcoming mission should finally resolve the Pysche formation controversy.

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Of course, Psyche isn’t the only precious stone in outer space. NASA has said before The asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter has mineral wealth equivalent to about $100 billion per person on Earth. The hard part is mining the precious metals inside each asteroid and successfully bringing them back to Earth. Then you have the whole supply and demand dilemma that can drive the price of a given metal up or down. We’ll leave the intricacies of space mining for another day.

Why is NASA traveling to the 16 Psychics?

NASA’s Psyche spacecraft in December 2022.


If Psyche is actually the leftover core of an improperly formed planet, she may be revealing secrets about Earth’s core. The interior of terrestrial planets is usually hidden beneath the mantle and crust, but Psyche has no such outer layer. The asteroid mantle and crust were most likely eroded by violent impacts during the early formation of our solar system. By studying Psyche, we can further understand how the Earth’s core was formed. The mission may also provide insight into the formation of our solar system and planetary systems around other stars.

According to NASA, this marks humanity’s first exploration of a world made mostly of metal. The Psyche spacecraft will use special instruments to determine what kind of material the asteroid is made of. What exactly is iron and nickel for example? or something else? The rover will also measure Psyche’s gravity and magnetic field and confirm the asteroid’s topography. All this will tell us a little more about the history of the formation and development of Psyche.

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What is a psychic spaceship and how does it work?

Engineers at NASA's Kennedy Space Center in Florida work on the Psyche spacecraft inside the Hazardous Payload Service Facility (PHSF) on May 3, 2022. While inside the PHSF, the spacecraft will undergo routine pre-launch handling and maintenance.  Psyche aims to lift off on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket on August 1, 2022. The spacecraft will use solar electric propulsion to travel approximately 1.5 billion miles to rendezvous with the asteroid of the same name in 2026. Psyche's mission is led by Arizona State University.  NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory, operated by Caltech in Pasadena, California, is responsible for overall mission management, systems engineering, integration and testing, and mission operations.  Maxar Technologies of Palo Alto, California, presented the structure of a high power solar electric propulsion spacecraft.  NASA's Launch Services Program (LSP), based at Kennedy, manages the launch process.  Psyche will be the 14th mission in the Discovery Program and the 100th major mission for LSP.

Technicians at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida do work on Psyche.

NASA/Isaac Watson

The Psyche measures 10 by 8 feet, which is slightly larger than the Smart car. Instead of using traditional rocket fuel, the spacecraft will generate its own solar energy. It was equipped with massive solar panels, making it as large as a tennis court had ever been deployed, which would generate electricity to power Hall’s innovative new ion engines and thrusters. Basically, electricity from solar panels is used to convert a fuel source (xenon gas) into xenon ions which are released to produce propulsion. (The xenon propellant also produces a cool blue glow.) Pysche will gradually increase its speed using ion propulsion. The spacecraft will also swing across Mars to push gravity during its journey to the asteroid.

In addition, Psyche will be equipped with a number of futuristic technologies. The spacecraft will experience something called “optical space communication,” in which messages are encoded in photons (particles of light) rather than radio waves. That could mean sending more data back to Earth in a given time.

The craft will also contain a gamma ray and a neutron spectrometer to determine the types of substances in Psyche; magnetometers for measuring the magnetic fields of asteroids; and a multispectral imager for taking high-resolution images. What’s more, Psyche will use radio waves to measure the asteroid’s gravity. This, along with a map of the asteroid’s surface features, should give us more information about the asteroid’s internal structure.

How much do self assignments cost?

NASA's Psycho spacecraft

Solar electric propulsion (SEP) structure for NASA’s Psycho spacecraft.


NASA says the total life cycle cost of the Psyche mission (including the rocket) is $985 million. A total of $717 million was spent on the project as of last July. That seems like a pittance compared to $10,000 quadrillion dollars.

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How long does it take for independent assignments?

NASA's Psycho spacecraft

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.


Psyche will travel about 280 million miles to reach the asteroid of the same name. The spacecraft is expected to launch on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket in October 2023. The vehicle will aim for gravitational assistance from Mars in 2026 to aid it on its onward journey. It will then spend 21 months measuring and charting, gradually tightening its orbit until it passes just above the surface of Psyche. If all goes according to plan, Psyche will reach the asteroid in August 2029. NASA said the mission team is continuing to complete the spacecraft’s flight program testing in preparation for the launch date in October. Congratulations, self.

Check out NASA’s video of the Psyche mission below:

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