As NASA prepares to send a probe to Psyche 16 — a metallic asteroid that orbits the sun about 371 million miles from Earth — the space agency continues to find ways to ramp up public interest in the mission. Something that’s easy to do if Bloomberg estimates the rock is worth about $700 trillion. In the video below, NASA offers a tantalizing close-up animation of the asteroid, which looks a lot like an IMAX movie.
NASA recently posted the above mission animation at: his YouTube channel. The space agency plans to send its eponymous Psyche probe in 2022. Although the asteroid is so far from Earth, it won’t arrive until 2026. (Psyche’s distance from Earth is constantly changing, but it will… closest to Earth in 2026.)
NASA animation shows how Psyche will approach the 140 mile wide asteroid. We watch as the spacecraft arrives at the rock and then flies through the canyons like a soft pod racer. Again: shoutout to the first-person perspective that makes the video feel like a Disneyland simulator ride.
Near the end of Psyche’s passage over the asteroid NASA, NASA reveals chunks of smooth rock strewn with what appears to be gold. It’s a visual nod to Psyche which probably contains a huge amount of precious metal. Along with enough supplies of iron, nickel and possibly even platinum to make everyone on Earth a billionaire. And yes, we know that the economics of actually bringing Psyche to Earth might change that.
Perhaps the coolest aspect of Psyche 16, aside from the dreams of greed it evokes, is the hypothesis that the metallic asteroid could be the core of a former planet. If true, that would mean Psyche is offering a chance to explore a planet’s core for the first time. And to enable us to better understand how much precious metal is in the interior of our own planet.
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