The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) on 18 January 2017 approved a mission to explore 16 Psyche, an iron-rich asteroid.
Under the mission, NASA craft will be launched in the year 2023 and will arrive at asteroid Psyche in 2030.
About asteroid 16 Psyche
• 16 Psyche is located in the large asteroid belt between the planets Mars and Jupiter.
• Scientists believe that Psyche may have started as a planet, before it was partially destroyed during the formation of the solar system.
• Psyche asteroid has a diameter in excess of 125 miles and is mostly composed of iron and nickel.
• Iron in the asteroid 16 Psyche alone would worth over USD 10000 quadrillion alone.
• Scientifically, Psyche is believed to be a protoplanet as its entire body consists of all those things which one day will be the core of a new planet.
• It is also believed that Psyche contains water which makes it a possible candidate for a stellar fuel station, as water can be used to sustain life and synthesize rocket fuel.
• Some researchers also put forward the suggestion that Psyche may contain water, which could make it a resource stopover as the mineral contents on the asteroids are worth over 100 thousand times the value of the entire world economy.
• The asteroid will be visited by the spacecraft for conducting tests to learn more about the history and composition of the celestial body.
• The information gathered from the asteroid will be useful to astronomers to learn more about the formation and early life of planets.
• The study of Psyche shall also reveal more information about the centre of Earth which cannot be studied directly due to the virtual impossibility of sending a probe deep underground.
What: Approved by NASA
When: 18 January 2017