Designed to explore a
metal asteroid that could be the heart of a planet, the Psyche mission is
preparing for a launch in 2022. After extensive review, the NASA headquarters in
Washington approved the mission to begin the final design and manufacturing
phase, also known as Phase C. That is, when the Psyche team finalizes the system
design, develops detailed plans and procedures for spacecraft and science
mission and completes the assembly and
of the spacecraft and its subsystems.
"The Psyche team
it is not only exulting that we have the green light for Phase C, more importantly
are ready, "said lead researcher Lindy Elkins-Tanton of Arizona
Tempe State University. "With the transition to this new mission
stage, we are one step closer
discovering the secrets of Psyche, a mysterious and mysterious metallic asteroid, and that means the world to us. "
The mission still has three more phases to clarify. Phase D,
which will begin sometime in early 2021, includes the final assembly of the spacecraft and
together with the August 2022 launch. Phase E, which begins shortly after
Psyche reaches the vacuum of space, covers the deep space operations of the mission, and
collection of science. Finally, Phase F occurs after the mission has completed its
scientific operations; includes both decommissioning of the spacecraft and archiving
engineering and science data.
The spacecraft will arrive at the Psyche Asteroid on January 31, 2026, after flying by Mars in 2023.
The psyche is one of the most intriguing targets of the main asteroid belt. While most
asteroids are rocky or icy bodies, scientists think that Psyche is composed mainly
of iron and nickel, similar to the Earth's core. They wonder if Psyche could
be the heart of nickel-iron, or exposed core, of a primitive planet perhaps as large as
Mars that lost its rocky outer layers through violent collisions
years ago. If so, it would provide a unique view of the distant past of the solar system, when
the kind of high-speed protoplanet encounters that created Earth and other terrestrial ones
planets were common.
The Psyche mission aims to understand
the building blocks of the planet, exploring firsthand a totally new and
unknown type of the world. In addition to determining whether Psyche is the
an ancient planet, the team wants to determine how old he is if he graduated
in ways similar to the Earth's core and how its surface is.
The payload of the spacecraft instrument includes three scientific instruments. Mission Statement
magnetometer is designed to detect and measure the remaining magnetic field of
the asteroid. Multispectral imager will provide high resolution images
using filters to discriminate between the metal and Psyche silicate
constituents. Its gamma ray and neutron spectrometer detect, measure and
map the elemental composition of Psyche. The mission will also test a sophisticated
new laser communication technology called Deep Space Optical Communications.
The Psyche mission is part of the NASA mission
Discovery program, a series of low-cost, highly
focused robotic space missions. Psychiatrist Principal Investigator Lindy
Elkins-Tanton is the director of ASU's School of Earth and Space Exploration.
Other ASU researchers on the Psyche mission team include Jim Bell, deputy director
researcher and co-investigator; David Williams, co-investigator; and
Catherine Bowman, co-investigator and student collaborator leads.
ASU leads the
mission. NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, is
responsible for global mission management, systems engineering,
integration, test and mission operations. Maxar Space Solutions, formerly
Loral space systems in Palo Alto, California,
is providing a high-powered solar electric propulsion spacecraft chassis.
information on NASA's Psyche mission, access:
News Media Contact
Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California
Arizona State Land and Space Exploration School, Tempe
NASA Headquarters, Washington