NASA Psyche gets ready to fly to this special ASTEROID! Know how it can change humanity forever

    The Psyche mission by NASA is almost ready after getting huge solar arrays installed in the spacecraft. The mission will see the Psyche spacecraft take a trip to a mysterious metal-rich asteroid

    | Updated on: Aug 22 2022, 10:39 IST
    NASA Psyche spacecraft
    NASA is all set to send its Psych spacecraft to a mysterious metal-rich asteroid after getting huge solar arrays installed (NASA JPL)
    NASA Psyche spacecraft
    NASA is all set to send its Psych spacecraft to a mysterious metal-rich asteroid after getting huge solar arrays installed (NASA JPL)

    The ambitious project of NASA - The Psyche Mission - is almost ready for its launch after getting huge solar arrays installed to the spacecraft. The Psyche spacecraft is going to explore a metal-rich asteroid called 16 Psyche which is orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter. The same-name mission will investigate the origin of planetary cores by studying the metallic asteroid. With the twin solar arrays installed, the final piece in its assembly, NASA says that the spacecraft will be able to travel a distance of 2.4 billion kilometers after its scheduled launch on August 1, 2022 and reveal some secrets about the Earth.

    “Seeing the spacecraft fully assembled for the first time is a huge accomplishment; there's a lot of pride. This is the true fun part. You're feeling it all come together. You feel the energy change and shift,” said Brian Bone. Bone leads assembly, test, and launch operations for the mission at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California.

    Why the solar arrays are important

    The solar arrays are the largest ever installed at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory. They are 75 square meters large, contain five panels and are cross-shaped. The solar arrays will be used to generate power for the spacecraft during its flight. The reason for the large size is due to the technological restrictions in collecting solar energy in the darker parts of the solar system. For instance, a typical solar array can collect 21 kilowatts of energy (enough to power 3-4 average houses) near Earth, but after reaching the asteroid 16 Psyche, it will only collect about 2 kilowatts - enough to power a hair dryer.

    Why is NASA exploring a mysterious metal-rich asteroid

    The mission is crucial for NASA to understand the origin of Earth. 16 Psyche is the heaviest known M-type asteroid. M-type asteroids contain a higher concentration of metal phases. In particular, this asteroid has been observed to indicate iron-nickel composition. It is believed that the asteroid is an exposed iron core of a protoplanet, which was left over after a violent collision with another space rock that destroyed its crust and mantle. Why it is important is because Earth also has a metal core which is rich in iron and nickel. Investigating this asteroid can lead to understanding the origin of Earth and what exactly lies in our Earth's core.

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    First Published Date: 09 Mar, 16:57 IST
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