NASA moves up launch of mission to metal asteroid

NASA moves up launch of mission to metal asteroid

"This will enable us to fulfill our science objectives sooner and at a reduced cost", he added.

Originally, Psyche was scheduled to have two gravity assists to help it along to the asteroid belt: an Earth flyby in 2024 and another from Mars in 2025.

Lindy Elkins-Tanton, the lead scientist who proposed the mission and director of Arizona State University's School of Earth and Space Exploration, told Global News Canada in January that even if it's possible to grab that giant chunk of metal, it is impossible to control the global resource and protect the market. The mission launch for 16 Psyche has now been pushed forward by a year from 2023 to summer 2022 by NASA.

Nearly made entirely of nickel-iron metal, estimates have suggested the enormous piece of space debris would have a monetary value of up to $10 quintillion if it were captured and returned to Earth.

The revised trajectory is more efficient, as it eliminates the need for an Earth gravity assist, which ultimately shortens the cruise time.

An artist imagines the SSL spacecraft exploring Psyche. NASA holds great scientific interest in it because it also holds clues to one of the earliest eras in the history of the solar system. But Psyche is by far the largest exposed iron metal body in the asteroid belt.

All the iron on 16 Psyche could be worth around $10,000 quadrillion - or $10,000,000,000,000,000,000, or $10 quintillion. "The world will see this unbelievable metal world so much sooner".

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The Psyche spacecraft is being built by Space Systems Loral (SSL), Palo Alto, California.

This includes boosting the number of solar panels from an array of four in a straight line, to five in a more powerful x-shaped design making it travel faster in space.

Psyche 16 is a metal asteroid that may be the remnant of an early planet core.

NASA wants to study this body, as it could shed more light on the interiors and layers of planets and moons since Psyche could possibly be a planetary body whose outer layers were removed due to violent collisions with other objects billions of years ago.

The spacecraft will integrate a gamma ray, neutron spectrometer, multispectral imagers and magnetometers as instrument payloads.

"By increasing the size of the solar arrays, the spacecraft will have the power it needs to support the higher velocity requirements of the updated mission", SSL Psyche Program Manager Steve Scott said in the statement. Psyche was the 16 asteroid discovered, but it will be the first world scientists explore made of metal instead of rock or ice. It is also the only known core-like object in the solar system.

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