BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — Since scientists can’t bore a hole into Earth’s metal core, this mission could help provide a glimpse into the creation of our planet.
And the nearly six-year journey will launch from the Kennedy Space Center atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.
NASA is preparing to launch its Psyche spacecraft to a metal-rich asteroid of the same name.
The spacecraft will travel about 2.2 billion miles to reach the asteroid Psyche, located between Mars and Jupiter, in 2029.
Nicky Fox, NASA associate administrator/science mission directorate, said Psyche is a rare asteroid.
“Just a few weeks ago, we brought back samples from Bennu (and) Bennu is a very, very different asteroid,” he said. “Psych is one of very few that is made almost entirely of heavy metal.”
Scientists believe Pysche could be the remnant core of a planetesimal, a building block of a rocky planet like Earth.
Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division, said they have a camera to share the first views of what Psyche looks like.
“We also have magnetometers so that we can measure any magnetic field from the metallic material,” she said. “That’s really important for helping us understand whether or not it was a metallic core at one time.”
And if Psyche isn’t an exposed core of an early planetary building block, it could prove to be even more exciting to scientists.
“The one great thing about NASA is all of our missions are kind of pushing the boundaries and doing first-of-a-kind measurements and science,” Fox said. “And so there’s always great surprises and yet more questions that you need to answer once you get there.”
The weather is looking less than favorable for a Thursday launch.
But Psyche does have launch opportunities every day between Oct. 12 and Oct. 25.
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