10 months ago
NASA’s in a rush to explore a metal-rich asteroid.
A mission to explore an asteroid that’s almost entirely made of nickel-iron will not only start a year earlier—but also get there faster than originally planned.
NASA announced Wednesday it had fast-tracked the Psyche mission, which lends it name from its destination, 16 Psyche, after its scientists calculated a more efficient trajectory. The mission is now planned to arrive in 2026.
Located in the asteroid belt between Jupiter and Mars, the 130-mile-wide 16 Psyche is unique because it’s primarily made of metal instead of a mix of rock ice like most asteroids. The space rock contains so much valuable metal that if all of it were mined it’s estimated to be worth $10,000 quadrillion, Global News reports.
“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 a press statement. “This will enable us to fulfill our science objectives sooner and at a reduced cost.”