An artist rendering of the Psyche spacecraft is shown next to a drawing of the spacecraft

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech | + Expand image

Learn about the Psyche mission to explore an asteroid that may be the remnant of a planet's core. Then draw and decorate your own model of Psyche using these step-by-step instructions.

Picture of the materials for the Draw Your Own Psyche Spacecraft project.


1. What's Psyche?

Scientists think that asteroids are rocky pieces left over from the early solar system, which began to form about 4.6 billion years ago. This means that we can explore and study asteroids to learn more about how the solar system and rocky planets were created. Asteroids can also help reveal what's deep inside planets in the places we can't reach – even within Earth!

NASA's Psyche mission is designed to explore these mysteries by visiting an asteroid also named Psyche that orbits the Sun between Mars and Jupiter. Scientists think that the Psyche asteroid might be a piece of a planet's core from early in the solar system's formation. So, the Psyche spacecraft is going to fly up close to the asteroid, go into orbit around it, and use scientific tools to study its surface from above. 

In this activity, you'll draw a model of the Psyche spacecraft and find out how different parts will allow it to achieve its mission goals.

About the image: Drag and zoom on this interactive panel from NASA's Eyes on the Solar System to explore a simulated view of the Psyche mission and the asteroid it's designed to explore. › View the full interactive

2. Watch the tutorial

Follow along with this video tutorial to draw and decorate your Psyche model. Scroll below for written instructions and to learn what each part of the spacecraft does!

Collage of images showing each of the steps described in Step 3.

3. Draw the spacecraft body

  • Fold the piece of paper in half horizontally and vertically to find the center point.
  • Make two perpendicular lines, each measuring 1 inch, that go through the center point.
  • Use the lines as guides to draw a 1x1-inch square around the center point. 

This is the bus, or "body," of the Psyche spacecraft, which holds all the mission's scientific tools. It's also where the spacecraft's propulsion system lives. This is what allows the spacecraft to move. Psyche is one of only a few NASA missions throughout history that has an electric propulsion system. 

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech | + Expand Image
Collage of images showing each of the steps described in Step 4.

4. Draw the solar arrays

  • Draw a point 4.25 inches away from the right side of the box that is aligned with the vertical middle. Repeat on the other side.
  • Use those points as guides to draw rectangles on either side of the spacecraft body that measure 1.25 inches high by 3.75 inches wide.
  • Divide each rectangle into three parts by drawing a vertical line every 1.25 inches inside the rectangles.
  • Draw 1-inch-by-1.25-inch rectangles above and below the middle of each rectangle. 
  • Finally, draw triangles connecting the square closest to the spacecraft body to the vertical center of the spacecraft body. 

These cross-shaped wings on either side of the spacecraft are the Psyche spacecraft's solar arrays. The solar arrays are made up of solar panels that collect light from the Sun to power the spacecraft. These solar panels are designed to work even when there's not much sunlight available because the spacecraft needs to work millions of miles away from the Sun. 

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech | + Expand Image
Picture showing the actions described in Step 5.

5. Draw the antenna

  • Use a coin or another round object to trace a circle (less than 1-inch diameter) inside the spacecraft body. 

This is the Psyche spacecraft's antenna, which is what NASA uses to communicate with the spacecraft. We can send instructions to the spacecraft, and it can send messages – including science data and images – back to us on Earth using radio waves. 

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech | + Expand Image
A person colors in their drawing of the Psyche spacecraft.

6. Make it your own!

Use crayons, colored pencils, markers or anything else you'd like to decorate your drawing and make it your own!

Image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech | + Expand Image