An asteroid said to be filled with precious metals worth over 10,000 quadrillion dollars (8,072 quadrillion pounds) is currently in our solar system.
Asteroid “Psyche 16” is a 124-mile-wide space rock that orbits the sun in the asteroid belt, a donut-shaped region of space between Mars and Jupiter – containing well over one million rocks.
NASA is currently organizing a mission to study the asteroid “gold mine” in 2026 with the aim of understanding its origins.
Some scientists have speculated that it was once the nucleus of a primitive planet.
To aid the mission, a new temperature map of Psyche was created by a team from Pasadena, Calif., To give a glimpse of what might be on its surface.
“Psyche 16” was discovered in 1852 and is said to be the remains of a protoplanet destroyed by “lightning strikes” during the formation of the solar system.
Unlike other rocky or icy bodies of its kind, Psyche 16 is said to be composed primarily of iron and nickel, and could be worth billions of dollars in potential mining value.
Before NASA’s major mission, the California team examined the asteroid’s millimeter wavelength emissions, which enabled them to produce the first temperature map of the rock in space.
According to the authors of a recent study on Psyche, the new findings are “one more step towards solving the mystery of the origin of this unusual object.”
“What was considered by some to be a piece of the nucleus of an ill-fated protoplanet,” they added.
Psyche is the largest of the ‘M-type asteroids’, an enigmatic class of asteroids believed to be extremely rich in metals and therefore could be fragments of the nuclei of protoplanets that shattered during the formation of the system. solar.
“The early solar system was a violent place, as the planetary bodies merged and then collided with each other while settling into orbits around the sun,” said Katherine de Kleer of Caltech, assistant professor planetary science and astronomy.
“We believe that fragments of the cores, coats and crusts of these objects remain in the form of asteroids today. If this is true, it gives us our only real opportunity to directly study the cores of similar objects. to planets. “
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Studying relatively tiny objects extremely far from Earth is a challenge for planetologists.
Psyche is as far as 200 million miles.
The gigantic metal-rich asteroid was discovered by an Italian astronomer named Annibale de Gasparis on March 17, 1852.
He named the asteroid Psyche after the Greek goddess of the soul who married Eros (Roman Cupid), the god of love.
This exciting asteroid is now the target of NASA’s Psyche mission, which is scheduled to arrive on the rock in early 2026.
The spacecraft will spend 21 months in orbit and study the properties of Psyche using a multispectral imager, gamma-ray and neutron spectrometer, magnetometer and radio instrument (for measuring gravity).
The main objective of the mission is to determine if Psyche is indeed the nucleus of a planet or just a large metallic asteroid, albeit precious.