NASA's Psyche Mission Rescheduled

A NASA mission to reveal more about a massive metal asteroid between Mars and Jupiter will go ahead after all, the space agency has announced.


Artist's impression of 16 Psyche asteroid
Artist's impression of Psyche asteroid | Credit: NASA/JPL-CALTECH/ASU

16 Psyche - a 140 mile wide (226 km) asteroid - could contain a core of iron, nickel and gold worth $10,000 quadrillion. To put that into perspective, it's worth more than our entire global economy, says Forbes.


NASA’s Psyche spacecraft was set to launch in August 2022 and arrive at the asteroid in 2026. However, software issues and mission development problems meant the mission missed its window. NASA has now announced its decision to take the Psyche mission forward and target a launch no earlier than 10 October 2023.


Whilst most of the attention has been focused on the perceived 'wealth' of the asteroid, NASA's purpose for visiting the enormous lump of metal is not, they say, to check out mining opportunities.


Most asteroids are rocky or icy, but since 16 Psyche is thought to be the exposed metallic heart of a dead planet it’s hoped that the mission will provide insights into the our understanding of Earth’s planet’s core.


Also part of the mission is NASA’s Deep Space Optical Communications tech demo, which will test high-data-rate laser “space broadband.” That could mean, in future, live video from Mars.

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