NASA will send an expedition to an asteroid worth $10 quadrillion - ForumDaily
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NASA will send an expedition to an asteroid worth $10 quadrillion

NASA's $10 quadrillion asteroid mission begins next week. Compared to previous such expeditions, NASA's upcoming Psyche mission is very interesting. The publication told in more detail Daily Mail.

Photo: IStock

The mission may not save planet Earth the way Bruce Willis did in the sci-fi blockbuster Armageddon, but it will determine whether a metal-rich space rock could bring down the global economy.

The orbiter is set to explore the 16-billion-year-old asteroid 4,5 Psyche, which scientists believe may be filled with iron, nickel and gold worth more than $10 quadrillion.

This amount of money is enough to make every person on the planet a billionaire. Although even if NASA can confirm that this is the case, mining of precious metals is not currently planned.

When will the launch take place?

The orbiter will be launched into space on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, which is scheduled to lift off from Pad 39A at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida on October 12 at 10:16 a.m. Eastern Time (15:16 p.m. local time).

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The launch was originally scheduled for October 5, but was pushed back a week so engineers could update the configuration of the Psyche spacecraft's engines.

About an hour after launch, the Falcon Heavy upper stage will put the Psyche vehicle on a flight path towards the main asteroid belt of our Solar System.

If the mission team encounters any problems that prevent the vehicle from launching on October 12, they will have until the launch window closes on October 25 to reschedule the launch.

How can I see

NASA will broadcast the launch live.

The pre-launch broadcast, without commentary, will begin at 09:15 ET (14:15 local) on the space agency's media channel.

The launch will then be broadcast at 09:30 ET (14:30 pm local) on NASA channels YouTube, X, Facebook, Twitch и Daily motion.

It will also be shown in NASA appAs well as space agency website.

Two days before the scheduled launch, which is October 10, NASA will hold a mission and science briefing at 12:00 pm ET (17:00 pm PT), and the following day at 13:00 pm ET (18:00 pm PT). XNUMX Pacific Time) - pre-launch press conference.

Both conferences will be available to watch on NASA TV, the NASA app and the space agency's website.

Will there be people on board?

No. We'll have to wait until next year's Artemis II mission to see astronauts travel beyond the International Space Station.

Project Artemis II will take a four-person crew of Christina Koch, Victor Glover, Reed Wiseman and Canadian astronaut Jeremy Hansen on a 10-day trip around the Moon.

The mission will be a warm-up for NASA's plan to return humans to the lunar surface by 2025 as part of the Artemis III project.

This mission will mark the first woman and the first person of color to set foot on the moon.

Where will the orbiter go?

The spacecraft will embark on a six-year, 2,2 billion mile (3,6 billion km) journey to the eponymous space rock 16 Psyche.

This 170-mile (280 km) wide asteroid lies in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

No spacecraft has ever visited an object like 16 Psyche, but if all goes according to plan, the orbiter will arrive at its destination in July 2029.

The asteroid is about three times farther from the Sun than Earth.

However, because Psyche and Earth's orbits move at different speeds, the distance from us to the space rock varies from less than 186 million miles (299 million km) to more than 372 million miles (598 million km).

As NASA explains, for the first time beyond the Moon, the Psyche spacecraft will use a very efficient propulsion system.

“The Psyche system uses energy from large solar panels to create electric and magnetic fields,” the space agency said in a statement. “They in turn accelerate and eject charged atoms (or ions) of a fuel called xenon (a neutral gas used in car headlights and plasma TVs) at such high speeds that they create thrust. The ionized gas will emit a fantastic blue glow as it follows Psyche through space."

According to NASA, each of Psyche's four engines, working in turn, will create a force equal to that which can be felt by holding three coins in the palm of your hand.

“In the frictionless emptiness of space, the spacecraft will slowly and continuously accelerate,” the agency said.

What is 16 Psyche

The irregularly shaped, potato-shaped asteroid 16 Psyche is thought to be the exposed core of a destroyed protoplanet—an integral part of worlds like Earth.

Scientists believe that this space rock most likely survived the numerous violent impacts that characterized the formation of the solar system.

During such collisions and mergers of small target planets, completely molten large objects are formed.

Heavy metals sink into the core, and lighter rocks float to the surface.

However, NASA believes that after 16 Psyche reached this stage, it collided with another asteroid, stripping it of its rocky mantle and leaving behind a bare metal core, which was discovered.

Spectroscopic studies and radar observations indicate that its surface is 95% nickel and iron, similar to the composition of the Earth's core.

The space rock itself was only the 16th asteroid discovered in 1852 by Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis.

Its average diameter is about 136 miles (220 km), and its mass is about 1% of the total mass of the entire asteroid belt, or about 440 billion pounds (220 billion kg).

This makes it one of the 12 largest minor planets orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter.

However, despite the metallic composition, it will definitely not look like something you would find in a jewelry store.

“I'd like it to look like a shiny, polished meteorite called a pallasite—with shiny silvery metal and beautiful gold and green gem-like silicate minerals in between,” said Lindy Elkins-Tanton, the mission's principal investigator. - But he won't look like that. Because no one has been there and opened it up and polished it.”

Lindy noted: “It hangs in space and is affected by the solar wind for a very, very long time. Therefore, its surface is unlikely to be shiny.”

Why this could lead to the collapse of the global economy

According to Dr. Linda Elkins-Tanton, a space scientist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, if 16 Psyche does contain precious metals, it will be worth a lot of money.

According to her calculations, the cost of 16 Psyche hardware alone could be $10 quadrillion.

Assuming that the market for asteroid materials is located on Earth, this could lead to a sharp drop in the value of precious metals, which would completely devalue all assets, including government assets, and all companies involved in the extraction, distribution and trading of such goods.

This will ultimately lead to the collapse of the entire economy.

Of course, this is all speculative and hypothetical, because even if a space rock were worth anything close to that kind of money, it would be unlikely to be easily dragged to Earth, and there are currently no such plans.

How expensive is the mission?

According to preliminary estimates, the cost of the Psyche mission will be about $1,2 billion.

Of this, $677,1 million is for spacecraft development, $112,7 million for launch and $171 million for operation during the six-year mission.

NASA's probe is 81 feet (25 m) long and 24 feet (7 m) wide, which is roughly the size of a tennis court with its solar panels extended.

What will the Psyche mission do?

Psyche is the first mission to explore an asteroid whose surface contains significant amounts of metal rather than rock or ice.

As previously stated, NASA believes the space rock may be composed primarily of metal from the core of a planetesimal, one of the constituent elements of our solar system's rocky planets: Mercury, Venus, Earth and Mars.

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If so, this could provide a unique opportunity to study how planets like our Earth formed.

Scientists believe rocky planets have dense metallic cores at the center of magma beneath their surface, but because they lie so far beneath the mantle and crust of such worlds, they are difficult to measure and study directly.

This is where experts hope 16 Psyche will open up new possibilities, as they believe it could be the exposed core of an early planet.

The spacecraft will carry several instruments, including two high-resolution cameras and a spectrometer to determine the composition of the asteroid.

Psyche is equipped, among other things, with a magnetometer to check whether the space rock has a residual magnetic field, as well as an instrument to measure its gravitational field.

The device will spend 21 months in orbit around the asteroid, during which the first ever images of 16 Psyche will be obtained.

It is expected that such detailed mapping and study of the asteroid will help researchers determine how it came into being.

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