Gold rush! NASA Asteroid Psyche Mission back from the dead

NASA’s Asteroid Psyche Mission to a metal-rich asteroid has been finally given the go ahead. Here’s what the space agency said.

By: HT TECH
| Updated on: Nov 03 2022, 14:17 IST
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This asteroid is worth $10,000 Quadrillion
NASA Psyche Mission
1/6 hereas other asteroids are generally made up of ice or rocks, this unique asteroid is made up of nickel, which is one of the building blocks of the solar system. One of the biggest asteroids in our Solar System, the 16 Psyche asteroid is made up of gold, nickel and iron deposits and is supposedly worth more than Earth's economy. The asteroid is worth nearly $10,000 Quadrillion. (NASA)
NASA Psyche Mission
2/6 The Psyche Mission will also help scientists to study and understand iron cores, a previously unexplored building block of planet formation. The 16 Psyche asteroid mission is a part of NASA's Discovery missions. (Pixabay)
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3/6 The findings of this mission could enable scientists to develop a way of using asteroids as resources. Asteroids could come in handy when building structures in space, such as bases on other planets or even the Moon. Due to their 85 percent metal structure, they could be an excellent source of minerals. It is even said that the raw materials extracted from asteroids could even exceed the metal reserves present on Earth. (NASA)
NASA Psyche Mission
4/6 The mission has been in the phase known as assembly, test, and launch operations since March 2021. Since the launch window is limited, scientists and engineers have worked round the clock in order to finish the spacecraft's assembly in time. However, due to unexpected software issues, the mission has now been delayed and pushed to 2023. (NASA)
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5/6 NASA said, "Due to the late delivery of the spacecraft's flight software and testing equipment, NASA does not have sufficient time to complete the testing needed ahead of its remaining launch period this year, which ends on October 11. The mission team needs more time to ensure that the software will function properly in flight." (NASA)
NASA Psyche Mission
6/6 In order to reach the asteroid, the spacecraft will fly by Mars for a gravity assist in May 2023 and, in early 2026, orbit around asteroid Psyche in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. NASA says that the Psyche mission is expected to launch in both 2023 and 2024, but due to the uncertainties, the exact dates of these potential launch periods are yet to be determined. (NASA)
NASA Psyche Mission
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Know more about this exciting NASA asteroid mission to a metal-rich asteroid. (NASA JPL)

In a dramatic turn of events, NASA has finally given the go ahead for the launch of the Psyche Mission to the metal-rich asteroid. Earlier this year, the space agency missed the 2022 launch window for the mission, citing late delivery of the spacecraft's software and testing equipment. According to NASA, the agency did not get sufficient time to carry out the testing of the equipment which led to NASA missing the launch window for the mission, which ended on October 11. Now, NASA has resurrected the mission with a launch window slated for next year.

According to a NASA blog, Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA's Science Mission Directorate in Washington said, “I appreciate the hard work of the independent review board and the JPL-led team toward mission success.”

“The lessons learned from Psyche will be implemented across our entire mission portfolio. I am excited about the science insights Psyche will provide during its lifetime and its promise to contribute to our understanding of our own planet's core,” he added further.

NASA's Psyche Mission

One of the biggest asteroids in our Solar System, the 16 Psyche asteroid is made up of gold, nickel and iron deposits and is supposedly worth more than the Earth's economy. The asteroid is worth nearly $10,000 Quadrillion. NASA revealed a new spacecraft for this mission named "Psyche" to reach the asteroid located between Mars and Jupiter with the help of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The 16 Psyche asteroid mission is part of NASA's Discovery missions.

According to NASA, the spacecraft will orbit the asteroid for 21 months to map the asteroid and gain information about the makeup of the asteroid as well as learn how metal core asteroids and planets are formed. This will be an important step to study the formation of Earth itself as well.

The objectives of the mission include determining the age of regions on the asteroid, study its formation, characterize its topography and study dips in the asteroid's gravity using multiple scientific instruments such as multispectral imager, magnetometer, gamma ray and neutron meter and more.

The 16 Psyche Mission will also test a new laser communication technology called Deep Space Optical Communication (DSOC). This technology encodes data in photons at infrared wavelengths for deep space communication. Based at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, this technology could reduce the communication time between Earth and deep space, allowing more data to be sent.

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First Published Date: 03 Nov, 13:46 IST
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