NASA's Psyche Spacecraft Will Explore Metal Asteroid Psyche

Posted: Jan 7 2017, 6:55am CST | by , in Latest Science News


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NASA's Psyche Spacecraft Will Explore Metal Asteroid Psyche
Artist's concept of the Psyche spacecraft, which will conduct a direct exploration of an asteroid thought to be a stripped planetary core. Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech

NASAs Psyche spacecraft will explore 16 Psyche asteroid that looks like a huge, shiny metal ball in space

On Wednesday, 4 Jan 2017, NASA announced that a mission named Psyche will visit Psyche an asteroid. The mission will launch in 2020. The scientists have named the mission after asteroids name Psyche, stated Lindy Elkins director of the Arizona State University School of earth and space exploration.

Psyche has elliptical shape when observed from radar, and it’s wide like Massachusetts. The asteroid is very thick having 200 to 450 pounds per cubic foot, that’s more than several other asteroids.

Psyche is so bright that the scientists think it’s of metal. Dr. Elkins said that this is the first time we discovered metal asteroid instead of rock, ice and gas worlds. Dr. Elkin thinks that, psyche is made of nickel iron core from a small planet that burst into pieces in solar systems history.

The journey to psyche will also give scientists info about earth’s center which wasn’t known before. The spacecraft Psyche will launch in 2023 and will reach psyche asteroid in 2030, and will orbit the asteroid for 20 months, according to NYTimes.

Another mission named Lucy will explore asteroids, like fossil of hominid ancestor of humans. Hominid existed 3 million year before, and Lucy will launch in 2021 and will end in 2033.

The mission will fly near 6 asteroids which are relics of solar system. Lucy will target Trojan asteroids captured by Jupiter’s gravity, sharing same orbit around sun like Jupiter.

Scientists discovered that Trojan asteroids have different characteristics depending on their location on the solar system before they moved into Jupiter.

This study can help scientists understand the solar system’s history, like how it evolved, stated Harold F. Levisona scientist at the Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, Colo., who is the principal investigator of Lucy.

NASA conducted a competition in NASA s Discovery Program that selected Lucy and Psyche for missions that cost $450 million each.

Same day NASA also announced that Neocam the telescope will explore asteroids that are expected to strike the earth. NASA is going to fund Neocam for the second year.

Neocam is the third one selected in the discovery program. NASA is also planning to explore Venus that was neglected by NASA in the past.

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