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Home / Science / The new study uses Hubble to observe Psyche, a metal asteroid worth $1 trillion

The new study uses Hubble to observe Psyche, a metal asteroid worth $1 trillion



Scientists believe that Sage may be the metallic core of an early planet that lost its mantle and crust due to collisions that may have occurred during the early formation of the solar system.

In 2022, NASA will send an unmanned spacecraft to Psyche to conduct close research and better determine its composition.

At the same time, this new study in the Journal of Planetary Science observed Psyche at two specific points of its rotation through the Hubble Telescope to capture both sides of the asteroid.

The research included Psyche’s first UV observation, which further deepened our understanding of the surface of Psyche and its possible components.

Tracy Becker said: “We studied the way ultraviolet light reflects off the surface of an asteroid.”

; She is the lead author of this study and a planetary scientist at the Southwest Research Institute.

She explained: “The way the ultraviolet rays are reflected from Psyche is very, very similar to the way iron reflects sunlight.”

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Becker told CNN that studying Psyche can help us better understand those early things in the history of the solar system, when objects will have “higher inclination and crazier eccentricity” and have more chances of collision.

Becker said that if Psyche is the metal core of a planet that has never been seen before, then a closer study of it may tell us a lot about planetary cores that we cannot explore.

Becker said the study also found two possible signals, which may be due to changes in the surface of Psyche caused by the solar wind.

Becker said: “The first is that as we go deeper into the ultraviolet, we start to see asteroids brighten, which is very rare.”

“In the past, when we saw certain planetary bodies (including the moon), we usually told us that this was caused by the interaction of charged particles from the sun with the matter on the surface. We call it space. Weathered,” she added.

According to Becker, the second signal is to detect the ultraviolet absorption band of iron oxide.

Becker said: “This may imply some kind of interaction between oxygen and metal.”

Becker said that oxygen may come from the sun, or it may already be present in matter on asteroids. Becker said that further research will be needed to link these findings with more information about when asteroids may form.

Ready to visit Psyche

The research was carried out in the context of the imminent cancellation of NASA’s mission to Psyche, led by Arizona State University.

“We are building space hardware to prepare for the launch in August 2022,” the mission’s lead researcher and planetary scientist Lindy Elkins-Tanton told CNN. Elkins-Tanton is also the secondary author of this new study.

The launch of the mission was originally scheduled to take place in 2023. Until 2022, the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket will be used at Cape Canaveral Air Force Base.

Elkins-Tanton explained that the unmanned spacecraft should reach Psyche in January 2026. It will orbit the asteroid for 21 months, map it and study it from a distance.

When it arrives at Psyche, the mission will be the first photo of an asteroid.

Elkins-Tanton said that scientists plan to make these images available to everyone on the planet immediately for further viewing and research.

“Everyone in the world will be able to see Psyche while we are at the same time, then scratch their heads and say what is this?” she added.

We want to know about pusec

Elkins-Tanton said that she is very pleased with the scientific community’s interest in understanding Psyche before the mission, which will be a real test of the asteroid theory proposed so far.

She added: “People have the opportunity to make measurements, hypotheses and predictions, and then really find out whether they are correct, because we have to find out.”

Elkins-Tanton hopes to find answers to help us understand “the ingredients used in making cakes”, which is our planet.

“indeed [Psyche] Does the study show that it may contain oxygen? Or are other light elements (such as sulfur or even potassium) mixed into the metal phase? Can we tell us the temperature and pressure conditions when it was formed based on its composition, so as to tell us the size of the body from which it came and the various things that make up our earth? “

Elkins Tanton said: “One thing we can guarantee now is that Psyche will surprise us.” “When we go there to find the answer, everything we know now may be wrong.”

Asteroids worth $10,000

Regarding the astonishing estimate that Psyche may be worth $10,000 trillion, Elkins-Tanton stated that she had a responsibility to present this number in an interview in 2017 when the NASA mission was first announced.

Elkins-Tanton said that although there is a discussion on Earth about mining asteroids to obtain resources, Psyche is not the goal we should strive for.

Elkins-Tanton said: “We can’t bring Psyche back to Earth. We absolutely don’t have the technology to do this.”

Elkins-Tanton said that even if it is possible to bring back metal from Psyche without destroying the earth, it is likely to crash the market.

“There are all kinds of problems, but it’s interesting to consider whether the size of Massachusetts metal is worth it.”

Space mining and our imagination

Elkins-Tanton believes that objects closer to the Earth are more suitable for space mining. One of the most interesting ideas is to use asteroids as a source of water, which can be made into rocket fuel.

Elkins-Tanton explained: “Most recent asteroids have no water ice on them, but they do contain minerals that bind water in their crystal lattices.”

She said: “They are almost like small gas stations.”

Elkins-Tanton told CNN: “It’s a bit ahead of ourselves in what we can actually do, but I like it because it shows people’s ambitions and shows us How powerful is your imagination.”

She added: “For me, this is the power of space exploration-it gives us motivation to do great things.”


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