NASA launches mission to asteroid 16 Psyche for planetary core research, not just mining its valuable metals. The expedition will take a decade to reach its destination.
NASA Mission To Capture Asteroid Worth $10,000,000,000,000,000,000 Lifts Off Successfully
The official NASA mission to the asteroid 16 Psyche is underway.
Over the summer, the space station announced its intention to travel to 16 Psyche, a distant asteroid.
It is rumored to contain valuable metals valued at an astounding $10,000,000,000,000,000,000.
In July, NASA released the following press release: "With less than 100 days to go before its launch, teams of engineers and technicians are working almost around the clock to ensure the orbiter is ready to journey 2.5 billion miles to a metal-rich asteroid that may tell us more about planetary cores and how planets form."
NASA is not traveling to 16 Psyche just to mine its valuable metals, even if the asteroid's contents are worth an incredible sum of money.
Rather, they want to discover more about planetary cores and the formation of planets.
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The SpaceX Falcon Heavy, located at Space Launch Complex 39A, was initially scheduled for launch last year. However, it was delayed due to technical issues.
October 13, marks the formal launch of the eagerly awaited expedition.
The asteroid is positioned within the primary asteroid belt, located between Mars and Jupiter.
The spaceship will need to cover a distance of 2.2 billion miles (3.5 billion km) to reach it.
It will take the SpaceX vehicle a very long time to reach its objective, therefore it's not projected to happen until July 2029.
It has been reported that as the ship passes Mars in May 2026, it will experience a slight acceleration.
Nine metal-rich asteroids are known to exist in our solar system, but NASA selected 16 Psyche because it is the largest.
According to Space.com, Nicola Fox, associate administrator of NASA's science mission directorate, provided an explanation: "Psyche is by far the largest, and that's why we want to go to it because the smaller ones are more likely to have been changed by things impacting them, whereas the big one, we think, is going to be completely unchanged."
The asteroid is enormous, measuring 173 miles (280 km) in diameter and 144 miles (232 km) in length.
Its surface area is 64,000 square miles (165,800 square km), according to NASA.
The space station estimates that between 30 and 60 percent of 16 Psyche's total volume is made up of metal.
"The asteroid’s composition has been determined by radar observations and by the measurements of the asteroid’s thermal inertia (how quickly an object gains or re-radiates heat)," NASA's website adds.
At each step of this mission, we get closer to uncovering the mysteries of our solar system and the wider universe.