An asteroid that could make everyone on Earth a billionaire is set to be studied and finally, NASA has confirmed a launch date.
The Psyche mission aims to study the 140-mile-wide Psyche asteroid that is orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter.
While this may sound like the plot of a Hollywood blockbuster, this is actually happening in real life.
And in an even more exciting turn of events, the asteroid is thought to be full of gold.
Find out more about an asteroid-deflecting spacecraft that NASA launched below…
The mission was supposed to launch in August 2022, however, due to technical difficulties and software issues, NASA missed its launch window.
However, everyone’s dream of becoming a billionaire might well be on the horizon.
NASA has confirmed that the Psyche mission will launch on October 5, 2023, from the Kennedy Space Centre at 10:38am ET (7:38am PT).
According to Forbes, the asteroid could contain a core of iron, nickel and gold worth $10,000,000,000,000,000,000 – or $10,000 quadrillion.
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The rocket that will be used to carry out this expedition will be SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy Rocketship – which will be the first interplanetary launch for that rocket.
Due to the new launch date, the Psyche spacecraft will arrive at the asteroid in August 2029 instead of 2026, so we’ll have to wait a little longer to find out if we’re all going to be super rich.
The mission will be part of NASA’s Discovery Program, which will consist of low-cost robotic space exploration.
Most asteroids are rocky or icy, but Psyche is believed to be the exposed metallic heart of a dead planet.
Researchers hope that the study will help provide further insights and information into our understanding of Earth’s core.
NASA explains that the asteroid is different from others as it appears to be ‘the exposed nickel-iron core of an early planet’, which happens to be one of the ‘building blocks’ of our solar system.
It explains: “Deep within rocky, terrestrial planets – including Earth – scientists infer the presence of metallic cores, but these lie unreachably far below the planets’ rocky mantles and crusts.
“Because we cannot see or measure Earth’s core directly, Psyche offers a unique window into the violent history of collisions and accretion that created terrestrial planets.”
The mission is being led by Arizona State University, while NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) is responsible for mission management, operations and navigation.
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Also part of the mission is NASA’s Deep Space Optical Communications tech demo, which will test high-data-rate laser ‘space broadband’.
The asteroid got its name from the Greek god of the soul and was first identified in March 1852 by Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis.
It is around the size of the US state of Massachusetts with an average diameter of about 140 miles.
Psyche is in an orbit around Mars and Jupiter, placing it a massive 309 million miles from the sun at the furthest extent of that orbit.
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