/ Modified sep 7, 2023 9:06 p.m.

Launch date approaches for long-awaited mission to a metal-marked asteroid

NASA's Psyche spacecraft has ASU ties.

Psyche Preview Illustration of NASA's Psyche spacecraft approaching the asteroid 16 Psyche in 2029.

NASA launches a robotic explorer to an asteroid made of metal next month. The Psyche spacecraft will begin a 6-year, 2-billion-mile journey on October 5th.

Arizona State University space exploration professor Lindy Elkins Tanton is principal investigator for the mission. She says If everything goes as planned, it will give us the first ever look at an asteroid with a metallic surface.

"We have visited bodies made of rock like Venus and Mercury, Mars and our Moon, bodies made of ice and gas like Jupiter and the outer planets," she said. "But what we have never seen before is a body with a largely metal surface and that is what we think Psyche is."

Earth's core has metal. Other rocky planets do too, but planetary cores are too deep to explore. Scientists think the metal on the asteroid 16 Psyche is at or near the surface. Mission planners expect the Psyche spacecraft to orbit the asteroid for 26 months starting in 2029.

By posting comments, you agree to our
AZPM encourages comments, but comments that contain profanity, unrelated information, threats, libel, defamatory statements, obscenities, pornography or that violate the law are not allowed. Comments that promote commercial products or services are not allowed. Comments in violation of this policy will be removed. Continued posting of comments that violate this policy will result in the commenter being banned from the site.

By submitting your comments, you hereby give AZPM the right to post your comments and potentially use them in any other form of media operated by this institution.
AZPM is a service of the University of Arizona and our broadcast stations are licensed to the Arizona Board of Regents who hold the trademarks for Arizona Public Media and AZPM. We respectfully acknowledge the University of Arizona is on the land and territories of Indigenous peoples.
The University of Arizona