NASA Advances Launch of Mission to Explore ‘Psyche’ Metal Asteroid
NASA has announced plans to launch its mission on a single metal asteroid one year ahead of schedule.
Launcher and Path Review will allow the probe to explore the psyche, an asteroid around the Sun between Mars and Jupiter, four years before the original programming, NASA said.
“Psyche, the mission of NASA discovery in a single metallic asteroid, moved a year with its launch in the summer of 2022 and with arrival in the main asteroid belt in 2026 – four years before the original calendar” , The United States space agency said in a statement Wednesday.
“We challenged the mission design team to explore whether an early launch date could provide a more efficient path for the asteroid psyche, and they largely crossed,” said Jim Green, director of the Division of Planetary Science at Headquarters Of NASA in Washington.
“This will allow us to reach our scientific goals faster and at a lower cost,” Green said.
The psyche is almost entirely made of nickel-iron metal. As such, it offers a unique look at the violent clashes that created the Earth and the terrestrial planets.
The flight psyche mission was selected earlier this year as part of NASA’s Discovery program, a series of robotic space missions highly oriented to explore the solar system.
The scientific objectives of the mission are to understand the psyche of the elements of the formation of the planet and to explore first hand a completely new and unexplored world.
The mission team is investigating whether the psyche is the nucleus of the early planet, age, if it is formed similar to the center of the Earth and its surface.
Psyche was scheduled to be released in 2023.
Shortly after the selection in January, NASA gave direction to the psyche team to look for previous opportunities.
“The biggest advantage is the excellent track record, which allows us to get almost twice as fast and profitable,” said lead researcher Elkins-Tanton Lindy of Arizona State University in Tempe.
“We are all very pleased that NASA was able to host this earlier launch date. The world is going to see this incredible world of metal much earlier,” said Elkins-Tanton.
The revised route is more efficient, since it eliminates the need for assistance to Earth’s gravity, which ultimately reduces cruise time, NASA said.