The Psyche mission is a journey to an exclusive metal asteroid orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter. NASA explains what makes the asteroid Psyche exclusive and unique is that it appears to be the exposed nickel-iron core of an early planet, one of the building blocks of our solar system. The Psyche mission is going to leave Earth in 2022. Although the original plan was supposed to launch in 2023, NASA has changed the timeline and is expected to start its mission in 2022. Observations from Earth hint that the 124-mile-wide (200 kilometers) world is 95 percent metal, just like the core of a rocky planet. “All of the rocky planets we know of, they’ve all got a metal core in their center, and especially for the Earth, it’s the source of our magnetic field,” principal investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University (ASU) says in the video. “We don’t know a lot about our core. What we’ve learned about it, we’ve learned indirectly, because we can’t go there.” “It’s too hot,” deputy principal investigator Jim Bell, a planetary scientist at ASU who is also heavily involved in the Curiosity and Opportunity rover missions at Mars, says in the video. “The pressure’s too high. Our instruments would melt. You can’t drill a hole that deep in the Earth or other planets. Turns out, we can study a planetary core out in space because there’s this one object … called Psyche.”
The aims of Psyche mission to a metal world are as follows: NASA explains
- Understand a previously unexplored building block of planet formation: iron cores.
- Look inside terrestrial planets, including Earth, by directly examining the interior of a differentiated body, which otherwise could not be seen.
- Explore a new type of world. For the first time, examine a world made not of rock and ice, but metal.
More details you can watch in the video!
Source: NASA, Space.com