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NASA Set to Launch Mission to Asteroid with Estimated Value of Quintillions

NASA is set to launch a spacecraft to an asteroid made mostly of metal called Psyche, which is located between Mars and Jupiter. The asteroid is believed to be the remnant of an exposed nickel-iron core of an early planet. Forbes estimated that the asteroid, which is around 140 miles in diameter, could be worth roughly $10 quintillion. However, NASA’s main goal with this mission is not to extract extraterrestrial riches. The scientists hope to gather more information about how planets form by studying Psyche and gaining a greater understanding of the collisions and growth of early planets.

The Psyche mission is currently in the final stages of preparation for its launch on October 5th. The spacecraft has completed testing and installation of flight software, which was the cause of the delay from last year. Next, crews will attach enormous solar panels to the craft in late July, followed by loading 2,392 pounds of propellant. The craft will then be launched from Cape Canaveral, strapped to the back of a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, and will travel 2.5 billion miles to Psyche. Once there, it will orbit the asteroid for 26 months, aiming to determine if the asteroid is indeed an early core and learn more about its age and formation.

According to Luis Dominguez, the Psyche mission systems and electrical lead, the team is excited and confident about the upcoming launch. The mission holds great potential in advancing our knowledge of planetary formation and the origins of celestial bodies.

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