A Metal-Rich World (Artist's Concept)
This artist's concept depicts the 140-mile-wide (226-kilometer-wide) asteroid Psyche, which lies in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Psyche is the focal point of NASA's mission of the same name. The Psyche spacecraft is set to launch in August 2022 and arrive at the asteroid in 2026, where it will orbit for 21 months and investigate its composition.
Scientists think that Psyche, unlike most other asteroids that are rocky or icy bodies, is made up of mostly iron and nickel — similar to the Earth's core. Exploring the asteroid could give valuable insight into how our own planet and others formed. The Psyche team will use a magnetometer to measure the asteroid's magnetic field. A multispectral imager will capture images of the surface, as well as data about the Psyche's composition and topography. Spectrometers will analyze the neutrons and gamma rays coming from the surface to reveal the elements that make up the asteroid itself.
The image was created by Peter Rubin.
Arizona State University in Tempe leads the mission. NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California is responsible for the mission's overall management, system engineering, integration and test, and mission operations. Maxar Technologies is providing the high-power solar electric propulsion spacecraft chassis. For more information about NASA's Psyche mission go to: http://www.nasa.gov/psyche or https://psyche.asu.edu/