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Sunday, July 12, 2020

July 12, 2020
 Asteroid "16 Psyche"(Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech)

NASA is preparing to send a groundbreaking space robot to an asteroid claimed to be worth more than our global economy.

Plans to send the "Psyche" aircraft to a 140-mile wide asteroid called "16 Psyche" have been under way for some time.

But this week, it has passed a major milestone in NASA's bid to launch the robot in August 2022.

It has passed a critical design review meaning everyone is satisfied it will work as expected.

Once it gets there, it will explore the metal-rich asteroid that boasts iron, nickel and gold.

It could even be the core of dead planet that lost its outer layers.

According to Forbes, the metals that make up the asteroid could be worth more than the global economy at $10,000 quadrillion.

Lindy Elkins-Tanton, an investigator for the mission, said: “It’s one of the most intense reviews a mission goes through in its entire life cycle.

“And we passed with flying colours. The challenges are not over, and we’re not at the finish line, but we’re running strong.”

After its launch, using a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, it will fly past Mars in 2023 and begin orbiting the asteroid in January 2026.

Once there it will measure its magnetic field, capture images and analyse neutrons and gamma rays.

Henry Stone, project manager, added: “One of the things we pride ourselves on in these deep-space missions is the reliability of the hardware.

“The integrated system is so sophisticated that comprehensive testing is critical. You do robustness tests, stress tests, as much testing as you can.

"You want to expose and correct every problem and bug now because after launch, you cannot go fix the hardware.”


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