NASA's new Psyche mission will take us to a metal asteroid for the first time



It may be the naked core of an ancient plan

DATE: 04/01/2017
RETRIEVED: 23/01/2017
SOURCE: POPSCI


Asteroids are some of the last unexplored territories in the solar system. To help fill in some of the blanks, NASA just announced two upcoming missions that will visit new types of asteroids in the 2030s.

Launching in 2023, the Psyche spacecraft will fly into the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter to explore an asteroid quite unlike the balls of mud, ice, and rock we've studied before; "16 Psyche" is a giant hunk of metal. Measuring 130 miles in diameter, it's thought to be made of iron and nickel.

16 Psyche may be the leftover core of a protoplanet—an infant world as large as Mars. Violent collisions are thought to have blasted away its rocky outer layers, leaving behind an asteroid very similar to Earth's own metallic core


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