Asteroid 16 Psyche
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA has found that 16 Psyche asteroid orbiting between Mars and Jupiter is made of rare metals such as gold, cobalt, platinum, rhenium and iridium. The total worth of the precious metals in the asteroid has been estimated as 10,000 Quadrillion USD by NASA scientists.
According to the NASA scientists, the asteroid might have been formed from the leftover of an earlier planet that lost its mantle and crust after getting collided multiple times during the creation of solar system. NASA is to send an unmanned spacecraft to study the asteroid closely.
About Asteroid 16 Psyche
It is located at around 370 million kilometres away from the earth. It is one of the most massive objects found in the asteroid belt of solar system. The diameter of the asteroid is 140 miles and is potato shaped. The asteroid was first discovered in 1853 by an Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis. The asteroid has been named after the Greek goddess Psyche.
Oxidation is constantly occurring at the surface of the asteroid due to solar winds. Solar winds are stream of charged particles rom the hot outer atmosphere of the sun called Corona.
How is earth protected from Solar Winds?
Earth protects itself from the solar winds with its magnetic field. The magnetic field of the earth deflects most of the charged particles from the sun. However, some of the charged particles get trapped in the Van Allen Radiation belt. There are two such belts around the earth. They are located at an altitude of 640 to 58,000 km. They are in the inner regions of the magnetosphere of the earth. These belts endanger satellite.
Metal Asteroids are not commonly found in solar system. Therefore, studying 16 Psyche will help understand the composition of inner layers of the planet.
It is a journey to a unique metal asteroid orbiting the sun between Jupiter and Mars. It has been planned to be launched by 2022. The mission will discover if the Psyche asteroid is a core or an unmelted material. Also, it will characterize topography of Psyche.
Category: Science & Technology Current Affairs