NASA's Psyche Mission Will Start A Space Trip To The Metal World

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NASA's psyche mission team will launch in 2022 to explore a unique metal asteroid orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter. This asteroid, which may be mainly composed of nickel iron metal and rock, may contain metal from the asteroid core and may provide a unique window to understand the history of fierce collision and accretion that created land planets such as earth.

It is reported that Arizona State University is responsible for leading psyche mission. JPL, managed by Caltech for NASA, is responsible for the overall management, systems engineering, integration and testing of the mission and mission operation. Maxar technologies, based in Palo Alto, California, provides high-power solar electric propulsion spacecraft chassis.

In our solar system, there are not many kinds of celestial bodies that we have not observed closely with spacecraft. The remaining one is a metal asteroid. Psyche is an asteroid orbiting the sun, located between Mars and Jupiter. Psyche is unique in that it is rich in metals.

It is believed that it may be the residual core of an early asteroid and formed in the very, very early part of the solar system.

After the planet began to form, the metal core formed inside. It collided with other celestial bodies and stripped away the rocky mantle, leaving the core.

This is the part of the planet that humans cannot directly sample today.

The planet is too hot and the pressure is too high, which will cause the instrument to melt. Humans cannot drill such a deep hole in the earth or other planets. So how to study the core of our planet? Psyche provides access to the core, which is the only way humans can do it. And this will be the first metal object that humans have visited.

It is understood that NASA has been approved to go to this planet in February 2028. It will take years to get there.

After flying over Mars, it will provide a gravity assistance, and then use the propulsion system to climb slowly. The aircraft will arrive there in early 2026.

It is understood that the aircraft will enter four concentric small orbits to collect the necessary measurements required by the three main instruments. Therefore, the payload includes several imagers, that is, the camera that takes psyche photos.

There is also a gamma ray neutron spectrometer, which enables people to measure the elemental composition of psyche surface.

Then there is a magnetometer, which will enable the research team to detect any magnetic field left in psyche.

If psyche still has some residual magnetic field, it may tell people that it is really a core. This is a strong indicator.

In addition, the research team will use the radio on the spacecraft as an instrument so that they can draw gravity maps and internal structure maps in this way.

At present, the scientific research team is using a special propeller technology, alifax propeller technology. They are five times more efficient than ordinary rockets, so they use much less fuel.

Solar electric propulsion has existed for quite a long time. It has flown before, but now it is continuing to promote the development of the border. It is understood that the spacecraft will have a large five folding solar panels to provide power for the propeller, which uses the inert gas xenon as the propellant.

It is reported that this will be the first flight of Halifax propeller in deep space.

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