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Psyche Mission to Explore Metallic Asteroid

Psyche spacecraft
PSI Senior Scientist Tom Prettyman is part of a mission NASA selected to fund to explore the earliest history of our Solar System.
The Psyche mission will explore the origin of planetary cores by studying the metallic asteroid 16 Psyche, one of the most intriguing targets in the main asteroid belt, located about three times farther way from the Sun than is the Earth. The asteroid measures about 130 miles in diameter and is thought to be comprised mostly of metallic iron and nickel, similar to Earth’s core. This asteroid is likely a survivor of a violent hit-and-run with another object that stripped off the outer, rocky layers of a protoplanet.
Prettyman is a member of the Psyche mission’s Gamma Ray and Neutron Spectrometer (GRNS) team. The data acquired by the GRNS at Psyche will be analyzed to determine surface elemental composition, providing constraints on planetary evolution and core formation.
The Near Earth Object Camera (NEOCam) proposal, which would discover 10 times more near-Earth objects than all discovered to date, was given extended funding for an additional year by NASA.  Planetary Science Institutes’ Mark Sykes and Tommy Grav are part of NEOCam.
Pictured above is a model of the Psyche spacecraft. 
Image courtesy of SSL. 
Feb. 13, 2017
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