March 29, 2023

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NASA wants to send a mission to Psyche, the asteroid composed of gold

NASA wants to send a mission to Psyche, the asteroid composed of gold

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The US space program NASA wants to launch a mission to an amazing asteroid in our solar system next year. It will primarily consist of iron, nickel, and gold, and therefore has tremendous value to us on Earth.


NASA is going to send a rocket to the Psyche asteroid after all. This launch was planned between August and October of this year, but due to software problems, it was canceled. An independent investigation was launched to see if the mission would continue at all. This research is not yet complete, but NASA has come to a conclusion: in October 2023, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket will launch the Psyche spacecraft.

Good news for all astronomers in the world, because Psyche is one of the most interesting things in our solar system. Psyche is an asteroid 225 kilometers wide located in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Remarkably, this asteroid appears to consist mainly of iron, nickel, and gold. This formation can be compared to the core of the Earth. So researchers think it might be the exposed core of an ancient protoplanet. The psyche may have started as a planet, but during the formation of our solar system it may have been severely damaged by the impacts, causing the layers of rock to disappear.

Lindy Elkins Tanton, principal investigator on the Psyche mission, calculated several years ago that iron alone would be worth $10,000 trillion, or 1 followed by 15 zeros. “Even if we could just grab a big piece of metal and drag it here… what would you do? Can you hide it and control global resources – like diamonds that companies control – and protect your market? What if you decided to bring it here and solve the problem of human minerals forever? “It’s wild speculation,” she said at the time. Elkins Tanton explained that NASA has no plans to bring the asteroid here. The technology for this doesn’t exist at all. Researchers say further research on Psyche is a unique opportunity.

The launch delay brings a few other elements. If the rocket had made it to the sky this year, it would have reached the asteroid by early 2026. But by postponing the launch to 2023, the rocket must follow a different path. As a result, the asteroid is scheduled for arrival in August 2029, NASA says. Costs are also rising sharply due to delays.

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