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16 Psyche asteroid

Date: 02 November 2020 Tags: Space

Issue

A recent study has found that asteroid 16 Psyche, which orbits between Mars and Jupiter, could be made entirely of metal and is worth an estimated $10,000 quadrillion.

 

Background

Closer view of the mysterious asteroid 16 Psyche shows its surface may mostly comprise iron and nickel, similar to the Earth’s core.

 

Details

  • In fact, scientists believe that the asteroid may be the leftover core of an earlier planet that lost its crust and mantle after multiple collisions during the creation of our solar system.

  • The exact composition and origins of the asteroid will be uncovered in 2022, when NASA sends an unmanned spacecraft to study it up close.

  • It was first discovered on March 17, 1853, by the Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis and was named after the ancient Greek goddess of the soul, Psyche.

  • The study also involved the first ultraviolet observation of Psyche, offering a clearer picture of the asteroid’s composition for the first time.

  • The scientists noted that the manner in which ultraviolet light was reflected from Psyche was very similar to the way in which iron reflects sunlight.

  • Metal asteroids are not commonly found in the solar system, and scientists believe that studying 16 Psyche may offer a rare glimpse of what the inside of a planet really looks like.

  • NASA scientists believe that the asteroid is made up of almost entirely of iron, nickel, and several other rare materials like gold, platinum, cobalt, iridium, and rhenium.

  • NASA plans to study the asteroid two years from now, when it will launch a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida to orbit the asteroid for around 21 months.

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