NASA Strikes Gold

Asteroid Mining Colony Psyche 16 Year 2144 Blender Octane Render

A 173-mile-wide asteroid is known as 16 Psyche, three times farther away from the Sun than is Earth, is thought to be made up of gold, iron, and nickel. The ore on the asteroid has been estimated to be worth about $10 quintillion. NASA announced in 2020 that it would collaborate with Elon Musk’s SpaceX to reach the metal-rich body.

NASA announced on Tuesday that it is about three months from launching a spacecraft that will be studying the asteroid. This intriguing asteroid is now the primary target of NASA’s planned Psyche mission. The Psyche spacecraft is targeted to travel to the asteroid using solar-electric (low-thrust) propulsion, following a Mars flyby and a gravity assist.

Psyche might be the partial core of a shattered planetesimal – a small world the size of a city or small country that is the first building block of a planet. Nasa scientists believe 16 Psyche is a survivor of collisions between planets, which were common when the Solar System was forming.

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