The “metallic world” in space that NASA wanted to explore will have to wait

The US space agency abandons the start of the Psyche mission in 2022. The probe will later leave for a very special asteroid, made of a metal slug.

It was to be one of the great meetings of a space adventure in 2022: the departure of a space probe in the direction of a metallic asteroid developing between Mars and Jupiter. In the end, there will be nothing. The US space agency abandoned this year’s launch. The mission, titled Psyche, like the name given to the asteroid, will be a few years late.

In the June 24 update, NASA sees two launch possibilities in 2023 and 2024, but given the orbital positions of the Earth and the asteroid – baptized (16) Psyche – the probe will reach the region only in 2029 or 2030, depending on the year chosen. ” Exact dates for these potential release periods have not yet been established. NASA warns.

An artistic representation of the psyche. // Source: NASA

The problem that has plagued NASA is delays in the delivery of spacecraft flight programs and test equipment. Due to the lack of time to check their quality, NASA considers that they no longer have enough time to complete everything before the deadline. These tests wanted To make sure the probe is working while in flight. It is far from secondary.

A world of metal is different from what we know

Psyche is one of the largest objects in the asteroid belt and its composition is of great interest to astronomers. described as ” metal world By the Space Agency and the University of Arizona, which proposed to study this object, due to its atypical properties. It is not made of rock or ice, like many other objects in space.

For the first time, we explore a world not made of rocks or ice, but of metal Welcome to the American College on the page dedicated to the project. The page, unfortunately, hasn’t been fully updated yet: it still shows a counter that says quitting in the coming weeks (the shooting window then posted from August 1 to October 11).

Access to Psyche will provide an exceptional window into the history of the Solar System and a better understanding of the formation of planets, particularly their core. An object like Psyche shares characteristics with the core of rocky planets. Psyche can be reached infinitely more than the center of the Earth.

Psychology 16 space asteroid
Artist’s impression of 16 Psyches // Source: Peter Rubin (cropped image)

In the depths of the telluric planets, including Earth, scientists infer the presence of mineral cores, but these cores are found below the mantle and rocky crusts. Psyche offers a unique window into these constituent elements of planetary formation and allows us to study a kind of hitherto undiscovered world. Summarize the university.

The composition of the asteroid is assumed to be an iron-nickel alloy, but certain other elements can be detected at the surface. The probe will be able to verify this by positioning itself in Psyche’s orbit at an altitude of from a few tens to several hundred kilometers. The probe will be active for just under two years at the site.

Psyché’s mission was to take off this year with the help of SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket, which is rarely used. It’s a Falcon 9 rocket that takes advantage of the support of two primary stages of the Falcon 9 rocket, here acting as side boosters. The announced delay in June does not call into question the use of this launcher for the mission.

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(951) Jasper.  // Source: NASA Eyes on Asteroids

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