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  • Matt Pondiccio


Recently, an asteroid known as Psyche 16 has been identified as a metal asteroid. NASA plans to launch a spacecraft in 2022 to observe the asteroid. The asteroid in question is completely made up of metals, mostly iron and nickel, with traces of other metals such as gold and platinum. Scientists believe it to be the core of a protoplanet, as the cores of planets are made up of metals. Believing it can provide a unique look at the core of planets, scientists hope to observe it to learn more about Earth's core and the cores of other planets. Psyche 16 was first discovered in March of 1852, and was identified as an asteroid. In recent years, its size has been established, with a width of 144 miles, a height of 117 miles, and a length of 173 miles. The biggest asteroids are over 300 miles wide, while the smallest ones are only 40 feet wide, placing this particular asteroid in the middle of the sizes. It has several craters in it, making its appearance similar to a potato's. It's orbit and rotation speed have also been established, and the asteroid orbits the sun once every five earth years. The time it takes to rotate on its axis is 4 hours. While most asteroids are made up of rock and some metals, there are other asteroids that are made up of mostly metal. As of yet, Psyche 16 is the only known asteroid to be made completely of metal. As one can imagine, an asteroid of that size, made up with metals, some of them rare, is quite valuable. It is estimated that with today's market, this asteroid could be worth around 10 quintillion dollars, or many more times worth than the earth's economy itself. An expedition to visit this hunk of metal has been in planning for a few years now, and the details are open to the public. Using the private space exploration group SpaceX, NASA will send a probe over to the asteroid. Using a falcon rocket, the probe will be launched in 2022, and should arrive at the asteroid sometime in 2026. The probe will then proceed to orbit the asteroid for 21 months, observing it with tools such as a multispectral imager, a neutron spectrometer, a magnetometer, and a radio instrument. These should provide some results to the questions scientists have about cores of planets. NASA currently has no plans of mining it, as they lack the funds and technology to do



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