Asteroid 16 Psyche is estimated to be worth $10,000 quadrillion. Annibale De Gasparis, an Italian astronomer discovered the asteroid in 1852. It has fascinated people ever since. NASA planned to launch its Psyche mission in 2022, and mission construction on it was going well in 2021. However, the mission was delayed. Now, NASA is finally ready to greenlight a launch date for the task and it’s happening this fall.
According to new reports from Chron, the Psyche mission will see a spacecraft of the same name lift off from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida between October 5 and October 25 this year. The spacecraft will then complete a 280-million-mile voyage to the asteroid, where it will orbit it for 26 months. The voyage is so long the spacecraft isn’t expected to reach the asteroid until 2029.
This mission is important because the value of the asteroid, and the fact that it’s the first world NASA has visited that contains metals. All of NASA’s previous missions had traveled to worlds made from rock or ice. The Psyche Mission will be a first for NASA.
The origins are not clear for this fascinating asteroid, but astronomers think it could be a remnant core from an ancient planetesimal – a newly formed planet whose outer rocky layer was destroyed by violent collisions during the formation of our solar system. The asteroid measures 140 miles wide and orbits the Sun between Mars and Jupiter.
Astronomers believe it is shaped like a potato. This makes it the most valuable potato-shaped object ever discovered. Asteroids like 16 Psyche are part of why many have begun pushing for asteroid mining to pick up as a way to gather Earth-like metals instead of completely depleting our own planet’s resources.
Of course, the success of this mission’s long voyage will probably play a part in how other missions to the distant object go. For now, it’s good to at least have a launch window in place for NASA’s Psyche mission, especially if it can happen this year.
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