The Psyche Mission, and its Plan to Investigate Asteroids


Courtesy to Wikimedia Commons

Chloe Huynh, Staff Writer

   Currently, there are many spacecraft and satellites that have been made to explore different parts of our moon, find other planets that may support human life, or discover new areas in the solar system. There have also been many missions started over the last few years and one of them is the Psyche Mission. Unlike some of the other missions/projects, the Psyche Mission plans to send a spacecraft to a metallic asteroid to look at the interior of various planets (including earth), and to look at the metallic asteroid itself. The launch date of the Psyche Mission plans to be somewhere in August of 2022, but there can be changes to this date as well. 

     All projects/missions have different purposes, or it may be something that will be built to replace another spacecraft, but it will most likely be stronger in some way (the Psyche spacecraft being no exception). According to NASA, “The Psyche mission is a journey to a unique metal asteroid orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter. What makes the asteroid Psyche unique is that it appears to be the exposed nickel-iron core of an early planet, one of the building blocks of our solar system.” NASA and many other sources also explain facts about the Psyche Mission including that the name of the asteroid they are investigating is Psyche 16, and the mission will look inside of terrestrial planets. 

    The Psyche Mission is an extraordinary project, and the current manufacturer is Maxar Technologies. In 2017, Maxar Technologies was selected to help NASA by engineering the spacecraft. On Maxar Technologies website, it states that “Maxar partners with innovative businesses and more than 50 governments to monitor global change, deliver broadband communications and advance space operations with capabilities in Space Infrastructure and Earth Intelligence.” The company says that they have over 60 years of experience and have been performing multiple missions/projects since humans started to explore the solar system. From the updates on their website, Maxar Technologies have finished many parts of the spacecraft including the main structure. 

    The Psyche spacecraft requires a variety of parts, and will be known as both the smallest and the lightest in Maxar’s 1300-class spacecraft platform. In an article on Maxar Technologies about the spacecraft, it says that the spacecraft is “roughly the size of a small car. It is combined with a medium-sized solar array, a high-gain antenna, and Maxar’s latest solar electric propulsion system. The spacecraft has been specifically designed to function in a low-power environment because of the Psyche asteroid’s distance from the sun.”

    In all, the Psyche Mission is quite interesting as it has been a while since a spacecraft has investigated an asteroid, and the Psyche spacecraft will also plan to look at planets as well. With the help of Maxar Technologies and many other companies who are also assisting this project, NASA will hopefully be able to launch this spacecraft by August of 2022 and many other projects that are currently going on as well.