NASA is preparing to explore a huge asteroid containing a lot of precious metals worth more than our global economy.
The US space agency’s asteroid probe will leave for the space rock next August.
The precious asteroid is called 16 Psyche, which is expected to be worth 10,000 quadrillion dollars.
By comparison, the global economy is currently worth about $84.5 trillion. Psyche 16 might have enough gold to make us all billionaires.
However, NASA’s mission in 2022 does not plan to mine the asteroid for gold but only wants to study it.
Scientists are seeking to find out exactly what the asteroid is made of and how valuable it really is. The mission will be NASA’s first visit to a metallic asteroid.
So far, Psyche 16 has been studied from afar by the Hubble Space Telescope, and most information known about it is only estimates.
Psyche 16 is located between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, and is believed to be made of solid metal.
The giant potato-shaped space rock is about 140 miles wide. Its brightness indicates that it is composed largely of platinum, nickel, iron or gold.
NASA’s discovery mission is expected to arrive at Psyche 16 in January 2026.
Psyche 16 was discovered in the late 19th century and is believed to have survived violent interplanetary collisions that were common when the solar system was forming.
This means that it can tell us how the core of the Earth and the cores of other planets formed.
Through this mission, NASA seeks to determine the exact composition of the asteroid as well as examine its crater, which is four miles deep and 33 miles wide.
It is also expected that the US space agency’s mission will map the asteroid and determine its age.
The agency’s current plan is to launch the spacecraft on one of the Falcon Heavy rockets, owned by Elon Musk’s SpaceX, this summer.
The spacecraft must fly over Mars in May 2023 before it completes another three years in space for its final destination.
NASA explained earlier: “For 21 months in the orbit of the asteroid, the spacecraft will map and study the properties of Psyche 16 using a multispectral imager, gamma-ray neutron spectrometer, magnetometer, and radio (gravity measurement). The mission aims, Among other things, to determine whether Psyche 16 is indeed the core of a planet-sized object.”
Source: The Sun
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