The 16 Psyche asteroid (so named because it is the 16th planet to be discovered) is believed to be the currently exposed core of a distinct protoplanet that was smashed billions of years ago. Its composition is generally estimated to be 90% metal and 10% silicate rocks. It is thought to be much denser than a typical stone object of equal size, and it contains about 1% of the entire mass of the asteroid belt.
Assuming that the core is made of iron and nickel, the total value of the asteroid (if we ignore the impact on the market price) would be ~ $ 10,000 billion four billion dollars. There’s a NASA mission to 16 Psyche scheduled to launch in 2022 and arrive in 2026, and the Hubble Space Telescope has just spent some time examining the core. The Psyche’s surface composition and what it is made of makes sense for the types of scientific tests and tools that will be loaded on the probe we send to study asteroids.
Researchers examined Psyche in ultraviolet rays – this is just one of a handful of asteroids tested this way – to see if the clue tells about how light reflected off its surface might. Revealing details about the inner composition of the asteroid. The data they found generally favor the high iron content of the object, but they note that a relatively small amount of iron mixed into rock materials such as olivine can produce Psyche’s UV signature. This makes it “difficult to quantify the iron that may be present on the Psyche surface.”
Scientists have several theories about how Psyche might form. It could be the iron core of a protoplanet that was destroyed in a single catastrophic collision. It is possible that the remnant core of a protoplanet loses its outer layers during the heavy impact that peels the surface but does not shatter the entire object. There are several theories about its formation, and research done at Psyche will tell us a lot about the early conditions of the solar system.
The asteroid belt doesn’t actually preserve the remains of the ancient solar system as they once did; materials present there today have been reworked and reworked in post-collision collision. When we sent spacecraft to asteroids like Vesta and dwarf planets like Ceres, we started to re-model those collisions. For example, we now know that a large collision with the asteroid Vesta a billion years ago was causing the high number of asteroids Vesta found on Earth.
These Psyche’s ultraviolet analyzes do not confirm that the asteroid is an iron-rich core remnant, but they certainly do not confirm it is not (other data gathered about Psyche, like its gravitational effect). on neighboring celestial bodies, shows very high density). Psyche is the only known metal-core-like object from any planet currently floating around and we can reach. In other words: Psyche could represent a scale model of the Earth’s core as it existed during planetary accretion, before gaining enough mass to become a planet.
This process may have failed at Psyche because of the higher impact energy. One theory for the reason why the asteroid belt cannot recombine into a single planet is because Jupiter holds the gravitational energy too high to support the planet’s accretion, and the ring’s material suffers. ejected, smashed into dust, flying inside (during the Heavy Bombardment), or swallowed up by Jupiter himself.
The goal of the Psyche mission is to determine whether Psyche represents the planet’s core or a previously unburnt mass of matter, gather information about its age, check for composition differences between minerals. in the Psyche’s core and the expected content of the Earth, to determine the conditions under which it forms and its overall topographic characteristics.
There are currently no serious plans to mine Psyche, but if Earth begins to colonize outside the solar system (as shown in TV shows like The Expanse), there is no doubt that we would exploit the asteroid for matter one way or another. It’s a rock that can teach us about the earliest days of the solar system, while also providing the raw materials we need to create its future.
Read it now: