The Hubble Space Telescope has given us a closer look of an extremely rare metallic asteroid which is loitering between Mars and Jupiter which is estimated to have a worth more than the global economy. It’s estimated worth is around $10,000 quadrillion. Yes you read that right.
This asteroid named 16 Psyche, is one of the most massive objects in the universe and is about 370 million km from Earth. Talking about it’s dimensions, it is around 225 km in diameter.
Most of the asteroids in the solar system are made up of ice and rocks but unlike others 16 Psyche is made up of Metals. Which could possibly be the core of a planet which could not form and hence called a “PROTOPLANET” of which the core was left exposed.
The new study depicts that the asteroid might be entirely formed of Iron and Nickel which is commonly found in planets with dense core.
We’ve seen meteorites that are mostly metal, but Psyche could be unique in that it might be an asteroid that is totally made of iron and nickel,” lead author Dr. Tracy Becker said in a statement.
Researchers have studied two points on the asteroid in order to view the details of both sides with the help of UV wavelengths.
“We were able to identify for the first time on any asteroid what we think are iron oxide ultraviolet absorption bands. This is an indication that oxidation is happening on the asteroid, which could be a result of the solar wind hitting the surface.” Said Dr. Becker.
The asteroids like Psyche which are made up of metals are very rare which makes it a very interesting opportunity for the researchers to study about the same.
NASA plans to launch an unmanned spacecraft to 16 Psyche on the SpaceX Falcon heavy rocket in 2022. It’s main objective will be to study all about the asteroid and it’s history. This will be the first time a mission will be on a body which is entirely made up of metal.
The orbiter will arrive at the asteroid in January 2026 for a 2 year long study mission.
The researchers also stated that they are not going to take any advantage of the rich composition of the asteroid even though it’s very resourceful.
We’re going to learn about planetary formation, but we are not going to be trying to bring any of this material back and using it for industry,” said Carol Polanskey, project scientist for the Psyche mission.