NASA is planning to launch a mission headed towards the 16 Psyche asteroid. Here’s more about it.
NASA’s mission to carry out detailed examination and study of the asteroid Psyche is all set to launch in August. NASA has recently revealed the possible launch date as August 1. The mission will be launched from Launch Complex 39A at the Kennedy Space Center.
One of the biggest asteroids in our Solar System, the 16 Psyche asteroid is made up of gold, nickel and iron deposits and is supposedly worth more than Earth’s economy. The asteroid is worth nearly $10,000 Quadrillion.
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NASA has revealed a new spacecraft for this mission named “Psyche” to reach the asteroid located between Mars and Jupiter with the help of SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. The spacecraft will travel a four-year journey to reach the asteroid in 2026.
The 16 Psyche asteroid mission is part of NASA’s Discovery missions. According to Thomas Zurbuchen, Associate Administrator for NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington D.C, “This is what Discovery Program missions are all about – boldly going to places we’ve never been to enable groundbreaking science.”
According to NASA, the spacecraft will orbit the asteroid for 21 months to map the asteroid and gain information about the makeup of the asteroid as well as learn how metal core asteroids and planets are formed. This will be an important step to study the formation of Earth itself as well.
The objectives of the mission include determining the age of regions on the asteroid, study its formation, characterize its topography and study dips in the asteroid’s gravity using multiple scientific instruments such as multispectral imager, magnetometer, gamma ray and neutron meter and more.
The 16 Psyche Mission will also test a new laser communication technology called Deep Space Optical Communication (DSOC). This technology encodes data in photons at infrared wavelengths for deep space communication. Based at Jet Propulsion Laboratory, this technology could reduce the communication time between Earth and deep space, allowing more data to be sent.