(NewsReady.com) – On March 17, 1852, Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis discovered a large asteroid later named 16 Psyche. Some researchers believe the asteroid could contain precious metals worth more than the world’s economy. NASA scientists are set to launch a mission to study the space rock.
According to NASA, Psyche has an average diameter of about 140 miles, or about the distance from San Diego to Los Angeles. The space agency scheduled liftoff on its Psyche Mission (named after the asteroid) for October 5. It’s being described as a mission that “could almost be considered a journey to the center of the Earth” because the asteroid could be the exposed core material of a planet that formed in the early stages of our solar system. Scientists believe it then collided with other bodies, which stripped off its rocky mantle. If that’s the case, it would allow scientists to study the interior of planets like ours which has not previously been possible because cores are hidden under layers of crust and mantle.
Some researchers think 16 Psyche has a nickel, iron, and gold core worth $10,000 quadrillion. That’s more than the world’s economy, which is currently valued at roughly $110 trillion.
NASA’s Psyche spacecraft is currently located at Cape Canaveral, Florida. It’s undergoing the final stages of preparations. Originally, the mission was supposed to launch last year, but it was pushed back until October. The spacecraft will have to travel 2.5 billion miles to reach the asteroid, a trip that is expected to be completed in 2029.
Elon Musk’s SpaceX will be involved in the mission, as well. Psyche will launch from atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy. It will spend a minimum of 26 months orbiting the asteroid and gathering data as images. The goal is to find out more about what the asteroid is made of and its history.
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