Die National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) plant a close encounter with a very unique asteroid, which can be worth as much as $ 10 quadrillion (£ 7,700 trillion).
A potato-shaped asteroid with the improbable name 16 Psyche could be worth more than the entire world economy on earth, which has an estimated value $ 360.6 trillion in 2019.
An Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis discovered 16 psyche on March 17, 1852.
The asteroid was named after Psyche according to classical Roman mythology. Psyche married Cupid, but was killed by Venus at Cupid’s request to save his love. Jupiter made Psyche immortal.
The name of the asteroid is appropriate because 16 Psyche is really a “dead” star that is still in orbit. For all practical purposes it can be immortal.
The value of 16 psyche lies in its composition
Most asteroids are made up of rocks and / or ice. Asteroid 16 Psyche is believed to be made of nickel and iron based on a number of recent scans done with the Hubble Space Telescope. The value is based on the volume of only the iron ore in 16 psyche. There is no way to evaluate the amount of nickel that is in the mix.
16 Psyche is only 140 miles in diameter, but that is a huge amount of expensive ore. It is one of the largest objects in the asteroid belts that orbit between Jupiter and Mars.
Dr. Tracy Becker, planetary researcher at the Southwest Research Institute, stated, “We have seen meteorites made mostly of metal, but Psyche could be unique as it may be an asteroid made entirely of iron and nickel.”
The Psyche Mission Plan
The Psyche mission is set to start in August 2022 and reach asteroid orbit in early 2026. The main objective of the mission is to “determine whether Psyche 16 is actually the core of a planet-sized object”. It will be the first mission to explore a world made of metal, not rock and ice. ”
The Psyche spaceship will attempt to enter the asteroid’s orbit for 21 months. The unmanned flight will map and study everything about 16 psyche and then send all of its findings home to earth.
The mission will use a multispectral imager, a gamma ray and neutron spectrometer, a magnetometer and a radio instrument (for measuring gravity).
It is will also test a sophisticated new laser communication technology. Instead of radio waves, it encodes data in photons for communication between a probe in space and Earth. By using light waves instead of radio waves, the spaceship can communicate with more data faster than in the past.
Despite the potential value of the 16 psyche, there is still no plan to mine the asteroid.
NASA’s DSOC (Deep Space Optical Communications) team works at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California.
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