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Scientists map weird metal asteroid that NASA spacecraft will launch to this year - Space.com

Scientists map weird metal asteroid that NASA spacecraft will launch to this year - Space.com

Scientists map weird metal asteroid that NASA spacecraft will launch to this year - Space.com
Jun 23, 2022 1 min, 5 secs

Planetary scientists have created a new, detailed map of the asteroid Psyche, providing a tantalizing preview of the target for a NASA mission set to launch later this year.

NASA's Psyche mission, named after its destination, aims to discover whether the 140-mile-wide (225 kilometers) metal-rich asteroid is the exposed core of a protoplanet, as scientists theorize it might be.

In new research, scientists from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and elsewhere used the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array (ALMA) in northern Chile to measure light emitted from Psyche, allowing the researchers to discern the temperature and certain electrical properties of materials on the surface.

Then, the scientists matched the thermal emissions from Psyche to simulated emissions, revealing varying amounts of metals and silicates — a large group of minerals made of silicon and oxygen mixed with other elements — across the surface of Psyche. .

"It's another reason to look forward to the Psyche mission going to the asteroid.".

— Why NASA is sending a spacecraft to a metal asteroid called 'Psyche'!

The Psyche spacecraft carries a gamma-ray and neutron spectrometer and a color imager which will allow it to begin to closely study the asteroid's surface and composition when the mission arrives in 2026.

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