Hundreds and thousands of asteroids are floating in space, but there’s one unique mental asteroid, rich enough to fetch up to ten thousand times the global economy in 2019. It’s worth a whopping $10,000 quadrillion ($10,000,000,000,000,000,000), reports said.
National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (Nasa) Hubble Space Telescope has discovered a metal-rich asteroid ’16 Psyche’ which is orbiting the Sun, in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
It is located roughly 370 million kilometres (230 million miles) from the Earth and measures 226 kilometres across (140 miles) — roughly about the size of West Virginia.
This discovery was published on October 26 in The Planetary Science Journal. The report said that researchers used the ultraviolet spectrum data collected by Hubble Telescope during two observations made in 2017.
Authors of the study said that Psyche’s surface could be pure iron. They also suggested that the asteroid may be mostly made of iron and nickel. However, the exact composition of Psyche is still unclear.
It has been hypothesized that a piece of iron of its size could be worth about $10,000 quadrillion — more than the entire economy on our planet — a CNN report said.
Earlier, Nasa said, “There are still contradictions in the currently available data, but the best analysis indicates that Psyche is likely made of a mixture of rock and metal, with metal comprising between 30-60 per cent of its volume.”
Nasa Psyche mission’s lead scientist Lindy Elkins-Tanton has estimated that the amount of iron present on the steroid would be worth more than $10,000 quadrillion.
According to Nasa, 16 Psyche is the name of an asteroid which is orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter.
Psyche orbits the Sun at an average distance of 3 astronomical units (AU) (about 280 million miles). (Earth orbits at 1 AU (about 93 million miles)).
“Because Psyche and Earth orbit at different speeds, the distance from Earth to Psyche varies over a large range!,” Nasa said.
Discovered in 1852, this asteroid is the only known place in the solar system where Nasa can examine directly what may contain metal from the core of an early planet.
Psyche was the 16th asteroid to be discovered and therefore is sometimes referred to as (16) Psyche. It was named after the goddess of the soul in ancient Greek mythology.
A day on Psyche is about 4 hours and 12 minutes, while a year on Psyche lasts about five Earth years.
In an interview to CNN, Elkins-Tanton said, “We cannot bring Psyche back to Earth. We have absolutely no technology to do that.”
“Even if it was possible to bring back metals from Psyche without destroying the Earth, that would quite possibly collapse the markets,” she was further quoted as saying.
The Psyche spacecraft is expected to be launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in 2022. According to the estimates, it will fly past Mars in 2023 and is expected to arrive in the asteroid’s orbit in 2026. It will then orbit the asteroid for 21 months.
Once the mission is complete, the spacecraft will stay in orbit around (16) Psyche, like a moon. This is also how NASA’s Dawn Mission ended.
The mission costs approximately $850 million. “This amount does not include cost for the launch service, which is procured separately,” Nasa said.
Nasa says that the asteroid Psyche discoveries may suggest “how Earth’s core and the cores of the other terrestrial (rocky) planets came to be”. Studying 16 Psyche may also present a rare glimpse of what the inside of a planet actually looks like.
“We can never go to the Earth’s core. Because we cannot see or measure Earth’s core directly, the Psyche asteroid may offer a unique window into the violent history of collisions and accretion that created the terrestrial planets,” Nasa said.
This is important because we cannot visit the core of the earth which lies at a depth of 3,000 kilometers (more than 1,800 miles)
As of now, scientists and researchers have managed to only drilled up to 12 kilometers (about 7.5 miles) – that’s the most the technology today allows.
Moreover, Earth’s core lies at around 3 million times the pressure of the atmosphere. “The temperature of Earth’s core is about 5,000 Celsius (~9,000 Fahrenheit),” Nasa said.
The Psyche mission aims to understand a “previously unexplored building block of planet formation: iron cores”.
Also, it will help explore “a new type of world. For the first time, examine a world made not of rock and ice, but metal”.
Also Read | Space wanderer: Planet as heavy as Earth may be free-floating in galaxy, finds study
Asteroid, 16 Psyche, NASA, Earth, Mars
World news – US – Rare metallic asteroid Psyche may be worth $10,000 quadrillion | Explained