There are so many precious metals in the asteroid that every single person on Earth could become a billionaire if he returned to the planet. The U.S.-based space agency NASA has started building the unmanned spacecraft that will fly to the metal-rich asteroid psyche and launch in August 2022 with a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.
The psyche is not only rich in metals, but also an important topic for planetary researchers.
This is because the space rock is believed to be the core of an early planet that has lost its outer layers.
The metallic space rock Psyche has a diameter of approximately 225 km and the plans for the mission of USD 117 million (GBP 93 million) have now been signed.
Once the design review phase has been completed, construction of the state-of-the-art spacecraft can begin, including manufacturing the spacecraft hardware with high equipment.
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The mission will also collect data on the composition and topography of the metal rock to better understand the core of a planet – since we cannot directly examine our own.
NASA said in a statement: “Spectrometers will analyze the neutrons and gamma rays that come from the surface to reveal the elements that make up the asteroid itself.”
To get to this point, the mission team had to make a number of prototypes and technical models of the scientific instruments to get the best combination.
Professor Lindy Elkins-Tanton, who is also the managing director and co-chair of the Interplanetary Initiative at Arizona State University, said: “This plans steroids.
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Professor Elkins-Tanton, a planetary scientist, calculated iron in 16 psyche alone and was valued at $ 10,000 billion (£ 8,072 billion).
If this were brought back to Earth, the value of precious metals would decrease and all stocks, including government stocks, would be completely devalued.
And ultimately, it could lead to the collapse of the entire economy, she said.
The asteroid also contains numerous other rare metals, including gold, platinum and copper, but the real value for this mission is scientific research.
Deep in rocky terrestrial planets – including Earth – scientists believe that there are large solid metal cores.
NASA wrote on the website of the Psyche project: “These are unreachably far below the rocky coats and crusts of the planets.
“Because we can’t see or measure the Earth’s core directly, Psyche offers a unique window into the violent history of collisions that created terrestrial planets.”
The main objectives of the mission will be to examine the rocky asteroid to see how we believe it is similar or dissimilar to the Earth’s core.
The NASA project will determine the relative age of the regions of its surface, whether small metal bodies incorporate the light elements into the Earth’s high-pressure core as expected, and whether they were formed under conditions similar to our planet.
Now the psyche mission is in full swing when it comes to building hardware. There is little room for error if NASA wants to assemble and test everything in time for the launch window in August 2022.
Assembly and testing of the entire spacecraft will begin in February 2021, and each instrument will have April 2021 to be delivered to the main clean room of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.