Written by Charlene Badsey | published
NASA is planning a mission to explore a golden asteroid called 16 Psyche that is believed to be worth more than the value of the entire global economy. The asteroid, which has an estimated value of 10,000 quadrillion dollars, is a heavy metallic object that could contain a core of iron, nickel and gold. The mission was initially set for August 2022 but was delayed due to institutional issues at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.
Now that the issues are resolved, a 280-million-mile journey to the golden asteroid is expected to launch between October 5 and 25 from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. A report from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory said via cron.
The report added that “participation in the overall response process and its leadership by the Director of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and senior leadership is considered global.” Psyche, named after the Greek goddess of the soul, was discovered in 1852 by the Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis. The golden asteroid orbits the sun in the region between Mars and Jupiter.
Astronomers say the golden asteroid is shaped like a potato and is about 140 miles across. Scientists believe Psyche may be the exposed metallic core of a “minor planet or nascent planet” that experienced violent collisions, shedding its rocky outer layers during the early stages of our solar system’s formation.
NASA’s next mission will mark a significant milestone because it will be the first-ever exploration of a metallic-rich celestial body. The spacecraft is expected to reach the golden asteroid in August 2029, and the spacecraft will orbit the golden asteroid for 26 months. The study of 16 psychiatrics is of great interest as it may provide insight into planetary formation processes.
In addition, 16 Psyche presents a unique opportunity to study an exposed planetary core up close. If the origins of the golden asteroid are in line with current theories, then analyzing it could provide valuable information about the composition and properties of planetary cores. The mission’s goals include examining other geological aspects, such as the magnetic field and mass distribution.
Moreover, the data collected from the mission will contribute to a better understanding of the formation of the solar system and the role asteroids play within it. Interestingly, the golden asteroid isn’t the only valuable rock in space. NASA previously said that the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter contains an abundance of minerals, estimated to be worth about $100 billion per person on Earth.
However, the real challenge is extracting these precious metals from each asteroid and transporting them safely to our planet. The abundance of precious metals in the golden asteroid makes it a tempting target for potential mining operations, further emphasizing its importance in terms of economic exploration and resource exploration.
Meanwhile, NASA says the total mission costs to visit the golden asteroid are $985 million. Already $717 million has been spent on the project as of July 2022. The mission team is currently carrying out the final stages of testing the spacecraft’s flight program, ensuring it is ready for the launch scheduled for October.
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