NASA’s Psyche Mission- Key Facts

American Space Agency, NASA, is set to send its “Psyche Mission” to visit a giant asteroid called Psyche, which could be the frozen remains of molten core of a bygone world.

Key points

  • Psyche asteroid orbits around the Sun in main asteroid belt, in between Mars and Jupiter.
  • According to data gathered through Earth-based radar and optical telescopes, Psyche is made largely of metal.
  • Psyche could be part or all of the iron-rich interior of any earlier planetary building block which got stripped of its outer rocky shell because of repeated collision with other large bodies during the initiation phases of formation of the solar system.
  • The asteroid is about 280 kilometres at its widest point.

NASA’s Psyche mission

NASA will send its Psyche Mission in August 2022 launch. This spacecraft will orbit around the asteroid for two years. In two years, it will take pictures, map the surface, and look for evidence of an ancient magnetic field. Aircraft will also study the neutrons and gamma rays coming from the asteroid’s surface in order to determine its elemental composition.

Significance of the mission

This is the first mission to explore an asteroid with a surface comprising of substantial amounts of metal rather than rock or ice. It seeks to understand iron cores, which is an unexplored building block of formation of planet. It also provides first opportunity to examine the interiors of a rocky planet

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