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Psyche Mission: Large metal asteroid is next to NASA’s agenda

By Shelumiel Ryan Abapo | Nov 28, 2016 08:56 AM EST
Asteroid 16 Psyche is one of the ten most-massive asteroids in the asteroid belt.
(Photo : Facebook/Psyche Mission) Asteroid 16 Psyche is one of the ten most-massive asteroids in the asteroid belt.

NASA scientists are currently studying a metallic asteroid believed to be the molten core of a planet the same size of that of Mars. The said asteroid is named 16 Psyche which revolves around the Sun between planets Mars and Jupiter.

According to Times, the metallic asteroid 16 Psyche was probably a result of a violent planetary collision that took place when the Solar System was still in its infancy. To answer the mystery surrounding 16 Psyche, NASA is planning to send a probe to study what could be the largest metallic asteroid ever discovered in our Solar System to date.

'Psyche is by far the largest metal object in the solar system,'' said Benjamin Weiss, professor of planetary sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who heading the team that is planning the mission. ''Psyche would be the first and only metal world to be visited by humanity. This is true exploration.''

"If Psyche has a magnetic field then it was the molten core of a little planet that was stripped of its rocky exterior. Its original body might have been as small as Vesta, or as large as Mars," said Linda Elkins-Tanton, director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at the Arizona State University.

The 16 Psyche will be the first ever space object that NASA will be studying composed entirely of metal. The study of the metallic asteroid is hoped by NASA to augment already learned knowledge about known metals found on Earth, as well as discover the unknown aspects of Earth's iron-nickel core.

But the planned NASA mission is still currently under review as its estimated cost would be a staggering $500 million, according to a report from Space Daily. But if it will go without any hitch, it will be ready for lunch by November 2020 and the probe will reach 16 Psyche by 2026.

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