NASA has selected two missions that have the potential to open new windows on one of the earliest eras in the history of our solar system – a time less than 10 million years after the birth of our sun. The missions, known as Lucy and Psyche, were chosen from five finalists and will proceed to mission formulation, with the goal of launching in 2021 and 2023, respectively.
The Psyche asteroid measures about 130 miles (210 kilometers) in diameter and, unlike most other asteroids that are rocky or icy bodies, is thought to be comprised mostly of metallic iron and nickel, similar to Earth’s core
Psyche, a robotic mission, is targeted to launch in October of 2023, arriving at the asteroid in 2030, following an Earth gravity assist spacecraft maneuver in 2024 and a Mars flyby in 2025.
16 Psyche is one of the ten most-massive asteroids in the asteroid belt. It contains a little less than 1% of the mass of the entire asteroid belt. Some astronomers believe it may be the exposed iron core of a protoplanet. It is the most massive metallic M-type asteroid.
Radar observations indicate that Psyche has a fairly pure iron–nickel composition. Psyche seems to have a surface that is 90% metallic (iron), with small amounts of pyroxene.
Psyche appears to be an exposed metallic core from a larger differentiated parent body some 310 miles (500 km) in diameter.
186 km (Geometric mean diameter)
Mass 2.27×10^16 tons (22.7 quadrillion tons)
Mean density 3.3 ± 0.7 g/cm³
Nickel has spot price of $4.60 per pound.
2204 pounds in a ton
So 5% nickel would be 1.1 quadrillion tons X 2204 pounds X $4.6 per pound.
This would be about $10,000 quadrillion, which is the estimate for the value of 16 Psyche by NASA if the price of nickel would not crash because of an assumed limitless demand for a simple calculation.
Iron has a value of $80 per tonne.
Brian Wang is a Futurist Thought Leader and a popular Science blogger with 1 million readers per month. His blog Nextbigfuture.com is ranked #1 Science News Blog. It covers many disruptive technology and trends including Space, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence, Medicine, Anti-aging Biotechnology, and Nanotechnology.
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