Asteroid ’16 Psyche’ Could Earn Nearly $1.4 Billion For Every Person On Earth

The story could be in a science fiction film: “an asteroid worth several thousand billion euros, ready to be explored by earthlings during a space mission”. However, this is exactly what NASA is preparing to do in one of its next missions to the asteroid called “16 Pysché”.

16 Psyche, The Asteroid of Billions

Located between Mars and Jupiter, 16 Psyche is a metallic asteroid with aspirations. 226 kilometers wide, it has a core of iron, nickel and gold. There are so many particularities that mean that its value, for us earthlings, is estimated to be close to 10,000 quadrillion euros. A wealth that, if shared, would allow every person living on Earth to receive nearly 1.4 billion euros, reports La Libre.

“Deep within the terrestrial planets, including Earth, scientists believe in the presence of metallic cores, but they lie beneath the rocky mantles and crusts of the planets. Asteroid Psyche offers a unique window into these elements. Investigate a type of world that has so far not been explored”, explains NASA.

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NASA, soon on its way to 16 Pysché

NASA’s trip to asteroid 16 Psyche has been planned since 2019. Initially, in August 2022 the space agency planned to launch its spacecraft, also called Psyche. But the start of the mission was delayed due to development and software problems and was postponed to August 10, 2023. However, it will take until 2026 for the spacecraft to reach the asteroid. Once there, it should orbit for 21 months to study the asteroid’s composition, Forbes said.

“I am very proud of the Psyche team (…) During this review, the team demonstrated the significant progress that has been made towards the upcoming launch date. I am confident about this plan going forward and excited- excited about the unique and important science this mission will generate,” said Laurie Leshin, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

So the Psyche spacecraft will travel to the asteroid using solar-electric propulsion, after a flyby of Mars and gravity assistance. Then, after its arrival, the mission plan calls for mapping the asteroid and studying its properties.

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Will the resources of asteroid 16 Psyche be exploited?

The idea seems tempting, but no, the NASA mission does not plan to go to the asteroid 16 Psyche to exploit its resources, but to examine and observe it. In addition, to exploit the resources of the asteroid, it must be brought to Earth and, from a technical and financial point of view, it is impossible. At least for now.

So the purpose of this mission is purely scientific. Measuring how metal and rock mix can help scientists figure out how Psyche formed, among others. Experts hope that the mission will provide enough information to improve our understanding of the core of planet Earth.

Asteroid exploration can also provide valuable insight into the formation of our own planet and others. “Team Psyche will use a magnetometer to measure the asteroid’s magnetic field. A multispectral imager will take pictures of the surface, as well as data on Psyche’s composition and topography. The spectrometers will analyze neutrons and gamma rays from above to reveal the elements that make up the asteroid itself”, explains NASA on its site.

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