NASA is planning a mission to probe a gigantic asteroid made of solid metal, including gold and platinum, which is currently in between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter, Fox News reports.
The asteroid, named Psyche 16, "appears to be the exposed nickel-iron core of an early planet," according to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory at the California Institute of Technology, which is handling management, navigation, and operations for the mission led by Arizona State University.
According to Fox, the precious metals that make up the asteroid are worth an estimated $10,000 quadrillion, far more than the global economy's worth at $75.5 trillion, and enough to make every person on Earth a billionaire.
The mission's objectives are to learn more about whether Psyche is a core or "unmelted material," to "determine the ages of regions" on the asteroid's surface and "characterize Psyche's topography," as well as compare the asteroid to Earth's core.
The goals are to "understand a previously unexplored building block of planet formation: iron cores ... Look inside terrestrial planets, including Earth, by directly examining the interior of a differentiated body, which otherwise could not be seen" and "explore a new type of world. For the first time, examine a world made not of rock and ice, but metal."
The Psyche spacecraft is set to launch in 2022 from Kennedy Space Center in Florida. It is scheduled to pass Mars in 2023 and reach the asteroid's orbit in 2026, where it will remain in orbit for about one year.
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