Psyche: A New 2022 Mission To The “Golden Asteroid”
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Space exploration has reached many records in recent years, from reaching Pluto with the New Horizons spacecraft, landing on a comet with Rosetta, and passing through the incredible close-up images of Jupiter taken by Juno.
New missions, however, are in preparation. Among these, one of the most interesting is a NASA mission that intends to reach an out-of-the-ordinary celestial object: 16 Psyche.
Not all asteroids are piles of rocky rubble like Bennu and Ryugu, the two objects recently visited by the OSIRIS-REx and Hayabusa-2 missions.
Some are made of much sterner stuff: iron and nickel, the raw materials that concentrate at the dense, hidden centers of worlds.
These heavy-metal members of our solar system are thought to be fragments from the cores of long-vanished orbs broken up by giant impacts, emissaries from otherwise inaccessible depths of time and space that lie billions of years in the past – or thousands of kilometers beneath a world’s surface. Other than actually visiting such bizarre objects, there is no way to directly study these all-important building blocks of planets.
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