/ Modified jun 15, 2021 2:11 p.m.

Student study sheds light on unique space rock

A UA undergrad-led project unraveled mysteries about asteroid 16 Psyche.

16 Psyche Illustration of asteroid 16 Psyche.
NASA

A University of Arizona undergrad is leading some of the research into an unusual asteroid in our solar system.

Geology major David Castillo's group investigated the metal asteroid 16 Psyche ahead of a NASA mission planned to start next year. The team found the asteroid's less unusual than originally thought.

"For a while we've known that 16 Psyche is made of metal, from radar and spectral observations. But recently new results have shown that there are two additional components on the surface," explained Castillo.

Castillo says those extra components, iron pyroxene and carbonaceous chondrite could downgrade the suggested value of the space rock, estimated at $10,000-quadrillion dollars.

A spacecraft will be dispatched to 16 Psyche for a closer look in 2022, but mining it is not yet feasible in the near future.

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