Asteroid Mission Led By ASU Is Nearly Ready For Liftoff

By Ginny Reese

April 12, 2022

The Psyche spacecraft is prepared inside a clean room at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, on April 11, 2022. - Psyche will launch from Cape Canaveral, Florida, in August 2022 to enter orbit in space around an asteroid, also
Photo: Getty Images

ASU is ready to send a spacecraft away from Earth and into a place we don't know much about. 12 News reported that the Psyche Mission is in its final preparation stages at the Spacecraft Assembly Facility at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

Many engineers and scientists from ASU are helping to put the finishing touches on the spacecraft before liftoff. This comes after decades of work on it.

So where's the spacecraft going?

It's headed to an asteroid, named Psyche, that is three astronomical units (AU) away from Earth. That's about three times the distance from the Earth to the sun.

Psyche is an asteroid made mostly of metal, whereas most asteroid are made of ice and rock. The hypothesis is that Psyche could have been the core of a failed planet, but no one knows for sure.

Principal Investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton said, "We have no photos of it. No fly-bys, no data that we can't get here form Earth, and the Earth data looks really weird." Elkins-Tanton is a researcher at ASU and was the inspiration for the mission over a decade ago.

The spacecraft will be taken to meet its rocket at the end of April. If everything goes well, it will be sent into space in August.

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