“16 Psyche” is an asteroid, orbiting the Sun in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. The sixteenth asteroid ever discovered, in 1852. It is one of the most massive objects in the solar system outside the planets. At about 140 miles wide, ’16 Psyche ‘appears extremely dense and metallic. Scientists are very interested in this asteroid because if its supposed origins are true, it would provide an opportunity to closely study an exposed planetary core. NASA is expected to launch its mission to the asteroid in 2022 and arrive there in 2026.
An asteroid that arouses all curiosities
According to the scientists, “ 16 Psyche ” is composed of 82.5% metal, 7% low iron pyroxene and 10.5% carbonaceous chondrite, which was probably released by impacts from other asteroids. . The “apparent density” of this celestial body, also known as “porosity”, which refers to the amount of empty space in your body, is approximately 35%. Composed of iron and nickel, “16 Psyche” could very well be a “protoplanet,” the core of a forming planet that has never reached maturity. In fact, it is a unique object, which is why NASA plans to visit and study it.
Discussions of “16 psyche” never stray too far from its supposed astronomical value. Because it is also possibly the most valuable asteroid ever found. It has been said that ’16 Psyche ‘could be worth around’ $ 10 trillion ‘, which is thousands of times more than the global economy, which was measured at around $ 87 trillion in 2019. This, of course, remains in the order of the estimates. .
Therefore, NASA wants to lead a $ 850 million mission to help scientists better study and map the asteroid. A mission that will consist of the launch of a probe. The probe will carry out an in-depth analysis of the metallic asteroid using, among other scientific instruments: “a multispectral imager, a gamma-ray and neutron spectrometer and a magnetometer.” The probe will be launched from a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket in August 2022, and is expected to reach the asteroid 21 months later, in January 2026.