May 27, 2017 06:59 AM EDT
Discoveries about planets or asteroids made up of ice, fire or rock are far from any normal human’s imagination. However, NASA plans to make it possible by making its mission to explore an asteroid made up iron called the 16 Psyche.
According to Phys Org, NASA aims to explore the metal asteroid named 16 Psyche. The asteroid was said to contain $10,000 quadrillion worth of iron. The space agency originally plans to launch its Psyche Discovery Mission in 2023 but was recently moved to 2022 to reduce cost.
With that said, the metal asteroid’s name was defined to be derived from the Greek figure that gained immortality, Psyche. 16 Psyche is 240 km in diameter, was identified to be one of the most massive asteroids discovered between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.
More so, 16 Psyche was described to have the most exposed iron metal body asteroid compared to the largest asteroid, Ceres. The 16 Psyche mission probe is expected to arrive at the asteroid in 2026, which is four years earlier than the planned landing. However, NASA announced that they are not planning to extract the iron on the asteroid, but only aims to explore it instead.
Yet, Lindy Elkins-Tanton, lead scientist on the NASA mission and the director of Arizona State University's School of Earth and Space Exploration wonder what the people will do if ever the quadrillion iron was harvested from 16 Psyche. Elkins-Tanton then noted that amid making the global economy explode, the metal resource problems of humankind wouldn’t just be simply solved as Science Alert reported.
"This mission would be a journey back in time to one of the earliest periods of planetary accretion, when the first bodies were not only differentiating, but were being pulverized, shredded, and accreted by collisions," Elkins-Tanton and her team also explained at a conference back then. Yet, the reason for 16 Psyche’s iron-made world isn’t still clearly identified by scientists up to now.
"We challenged the mission design team to explore if an earlier launch date could provide a more efficient trajectory to the asteroid Psyche, and they came through in a big way,” said Jim Green, director of the Planetary Science Division at NASA Headquarters in Washington. Rest assured, the Psyche mission would indeed open the eyes of humans to witness a world made up of iron.
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