NASA To Visit Psyche Asteroid Worth $10,000 Quadrillion

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NASA To Visit Psyche Asteroid Worth $10,000 Quadrillion

NASA has finally set a new date for its Psyche mission that will see the space agency visit a giant space rock hurtling somewhere deep in the Asteroid Belt. Dubbed 16 Psyche, the asteroid has a total of one percent of the mass of the Asteroid Belt and is believed to be the core of an ancient planet.

 

But astronomers aren’t intrigued by the size of the asteroid, but its metal-rich composition. The space rock comprises iron, nickel, and gold in abundance, and is worth an estimated $10,000 quadrillion. This easily beats the entire global economy on Earth. However, scientists aren’t chasing the asteroid for its monetary value but looking for its planetary origins.

Psyche Mission Finally On Track

NASA’s Psyche mission was earlier slated to take off in August 2022; however, the spacecraft ran into several flight software hiccups that led the space agency to delay the launch.

After an independent review of the mission, NASA announced that it will be moving forward with the Psyche mission and launching it aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket by October 10, 2023.

"I'm extremely proud of the Psyche team," said Laurie Leshin, director of NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory. "During this review, they have demonstrated significant progress already made toward the future launch date. I am confident in the plan moving forward and excited by the unique and important science this mission will return."

Unraveling Mysteries Of Terrestrial Planets

While the new launch date is almost a year away, the expected arrival at the asteroid has been moved forward by three years, because the space agency will have to wait to use Mars’ gravity as a slingshot. The mission will now arrive at the Psyche asteroid by 2029 instead of 2026.

Once it arrives at the asteroid, the spacecraft will orbit around 16 Psyche and observe it using an array of instruments such as gamma ray and neutron spectrometers, multispectral imager, and a magnetometer, as per the space agency.

With this mission, astronomers hope to understand if the space rock is actually the core of a planet. If it turns out to be one, it would be a great opportunity for researchers to understand the interior of terrestrial planets like the Earth.

Heaviest Element In Exoplanet’s Atmosphere

Recently, a team of researchers discovered the heaviest element ever seen in an exoplanet’s atmosphere. The researchers studied two hellish gas giants named WASP-76 b and WASP-121 b and found the element barium in their atmospheres.

Both planets are extremely close to their host stars, which makes them super-hot, with temperatures reaching over 1,000 degrees Celsius. Scientists are still trying to find answers to what’s causing this very heavy element to appear in their atmospheres.

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