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NASA Psyche To Study Asteroid Worth $10,000 Quadrillion Of Precious Metals

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Monit Khanna
Monit KhannaUpdated on Aug 16, 2020, 12:20 IST
NASA psyche mission

NASA is soon going to commence building its latest spacecraft called Psyche. The NASA mission will be to 226-kilometre wide asteroid dubbed ‘16 Psyche’. The spacecraft has cleared the ‘critical design’ phase last month.?

NASA psyche mission NASA

In case you were wondering what’s so special about this asteroid, well for starters, this asteroid could be probably worth more than our entire global economy. Situated in the solar system’s asteroid belt that lies between Mars and Jupiter, the asteroid is unique.?

NASA Psyche mission asteroid

It is thought to be built entirely of exposed metallic iron, nickel and gold core of a protoplanet. In case you didn’t know, most asteroids are known to be icy and rocky and nothing like 16 Psyche. Experts claim the gold and other precious metals on the asteroid to be worth $10,000 quadrillion. That is enough money to make every single person alive on Earth right now a billionaire (in terms of US Dollars). If that asteroid is mined for its riches, it is worth more than the entire Earth's economic system, threatening to wipe it off completely.

Researchers claim that this very core is not very different from our own planet’s core, hinting that it could very well be the insiders of a dead planet that has either suffered severe collisions or lost its outer layers due to some reason.

SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket

NASA is working with SpaceX on this to launch Psyche from Cape Canaveral Launch Pad 39A, with the help of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, somewhere around August 2022. The rocket is expected to cross Mars in the year 2023 and will move towards the trajectory of the asteroid by January 2026 -- so it’s a long journey.

Lindy Elkins-Tanton, principal investigator for the Psyche mission said in a statement, “It’s one of the most intense reviews a mission goes through in its entire life cycle. And we passed with flying colours. The challenges are not over, and we’re not at the finish line, but we’re running strong.”

NASA psyche mission NASA

Hardware being developed for the asteroid

NASA is now in the process of making three instruments -- a magnetometer to measure the magnetic field of the asteroid, a multispectral imager to capture surface images, and spectrometers that look at neurons and gamma rays coming from the surface to learn more about its creation.

The assembly and testing are expected to commence in February next year and the equipment will be in the cleanroom of JPL by April of 2021.

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