NASA is planning to send a probe to investigate mysterious water on the asteroid Psyche.
Researchers from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) studying Psyche recently detected water on it with a NASA telescope. The new findings suggest that Psyche may not have a metallic core and is likely water rich. Astronomers previously thought the asteroid was almost entirely metal.
“It is possible that water-rich minerals detected on Psyche might have been delivered to its surface by carbonaceous asteroids that impacted Psyche in the distant past,” Driss Takir, a USGS scientist leading the investigation of Psyche, said in a press statement. “Solar wind could be another mechanism that can produce hydroxyl by interacting with the surface of Psyche and some other M-type asteroids.”
NASA plans to send a dedicated spacecraft equipped with a set of specialized instruments which would allow scientists to better characterize Psyche’s water and to learn how it came to exist.
The spacecraft would be launched in 2023 and arrive at Psyche in 2030. It would spend 20 months in orbit around the asteroid to study and map it. The probe would likely include a multispectral camera capable of acquiring high-resolution images and a spectrometer capable of observing Psyche’s elemental composition.
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