Massive metal asteroid exploration worth more than the entire global economy: What will NASA’s Psych mission launch this year look like?

2021 was one of the most intense and successful years for NASA, in which the company was able to turn some of its projects (at first glance, what seemed like science fiction) into scientific reality.

American Space Agency Made history on Mars With his rover Diligence And autonomous helicopter Brilliance, Who flew the first flight to another planet; Continued to progress in his project Artemis, The purpose of which is to re-examine the moon; Tested a new technologies Supersonic aircraft Quiet and launched Telescope The world’s most powerful spacecraft, James Webb, among others Achievements.

However, NASA does not plan to stop in 2022. Next summer, the agency plans to launch an orbital mission called Psyche. Will travel approximately 450 million kilometers to an exceptional asteroid Name orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter at a distance of 378 million and 497 million kilometers from our star.

Why Asteroid Psych?

What makes this space rock unique is that it appears The exposed nickel-iron nucleus of an ancient planet, To explain Company. If it is, the Asteroid Psych 16Named for the psychic psyche in Greco-Roman mythology, it could give a closer look at the Earth-like rocky terrestrial planets, which are usually hidden under mantle and crust layers.

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In addition, traces of space objects with a diameter of more than 200 kilometers were affected by collisions millions of years ago. To better understand the formation of our solar system, As well as planetary systems orbiting other stars.

“If it became part of a metal nucleus, it would be part of the first generation of ancient nuclei in our solar system.” Comprehensive Lindy Elkins-Tandon, Arizona State University scientist and principal researcher for the work.

“But we do not really know, we do not know anything until we get there. We want to ask the primary questions about the material that made up the planets. We are full of questions and many are without answers. This is a real study, ”he added.

Is calculated The value of the metals that make up Syk16 is much higher than that of the entire world economy. Elkins-Tandon calculates His iron alone would be worth about $ 10,000 quadrillion On earth. By comparison, the world economy is estimated to be worth about $ 84.5 trillion by 2020. According to Forbes.

How is psychological work carried out?

The Psych spacecraft – measuring 3.1 meters and measuring 2.4 meters and with solar panels – was launched in August by John F. Kennedy in Florida. The SpaceX Falcon Heavy Rocket is scheduled to launch from the Kennedy Space Center. Between October 2022 and October 2026, it will orbit the asteroid using solar power. Will pass close to Mars in May 2023 To obtain the force of gravity.

The trial is expected I reached the asteroid in January 2026 After about 100 days of approximate phase, it will measure its axis of rotation and rotation, then mapping it for 21 months and gradually reducing its orbit until it rises slightly above the surface of the rock. The predicted orbit of the spacecraft actually consists of four close orbits, which allows the internal instruments to increase their efficiency at different distances.

When, Work is expected to close between November 2027 and August 2028, The spacecraft will provide its latest data to Earth anytime. After the mission team presents the remaining results, the space flight systems will be decommissioned, indicating the end of the project.

The beginning of our technological future

Psychological work will give researchers more than a glimpse into our deep past, and it will also allow them to see the beginnings of our technological future. Instead of traditional rocket fuel, the ship will gradually increase speed using ion propulsion. Electricity from solar panels in space exploration will power deep space for the first time A new type of impetus Called the Hall Thruster. Xenon gas is converted into xenon ions, which are expelled from the vessel to provide propulsion, initially slowly but steadily increasing as it accelerates.

The study’s communication system may also break new ground. Although it is based on the most traditional primary communication system, the spacecraft tests laser communications, which encrypts its messages into photons – light particles – rather than radio waves. This is the potential material Sends more data to Earth at a given time.

The ship’s scientific instruments

Stands alone in the scientific instruments of the soul A multispectral imager Capable of capturing high-resolution images in conjunction with filters, which allow asteroid-forming metals and silicate or rock objects to be identified. Powerful dual cameras collect data on its geography, composition and terrain, one of which is optical navigation.

In addition, there is the spacecraft A spectrometer with two detectors, one gamma ray and one neutron, Which will decompose the chemical elements on the surface of the space rock: iron, nickel, silicon and oxygen. NASA notes that their existence, push, and energy could tell the story of asteroid formation and its evolution over the centuries.

The study is also a fitted one Magnetometer Measure the magnetic field and know the interior of the space body. According to NASA, what remains of the asteroid’s magnetic field will reveal much about its history and composition.

Developed with the spacecraft’s X-band radio system, the high-precision measurements of Psych 16’s gravitational field will be linked from images to maps of the space rock’s surface. Overall, Measurements will show the bumps and depressions of your gravitational field, Reveals its internal structure.

“Man has always been an analyst,” Elkins-Tandon said. “We always start from where we are to find out what’s beyond that mountain. We always want to go further, we always want to imagine. This is something inherent in us. We do not know what we are going to find, and I hope we will be amazed at everything,” he concluded.

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