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NASA’s Psyche Mission: Getting Ready to Explore a Metal World

NASA’s Psyche Mission, set to launch in Oct, seeks to explore a metallic asteroid, revealing insights into the core of a planetesimal.

NASA's Psyche Mission Getting Ready to Explore a Metal World
Image Credit: ABC News

The first spacecraft of NASA developed to investigate a metallic asteroid is set to launch in October. This project, “Psyche Mission,” was initially anticipated to lift off in the year 2022. However, the launch window was ready before the spacecraft’s flight software was ready, opening on 1 August and closing on 11 October.

The software’s test bed simulators had a compatibility problem, which engineers found when testing at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Although the problem was fixed, there needed to be more time for a thorough review and launch in 2022.

According to the statement, an independent review board determined that efforts made by NASA and the California Institute of Technology to restart the delayed mission, including institutional and mission-related activities, have been “outstanding.”

The review board met last summer after delays in June 2022 became apparent and delivered a report and recommendations to NASA in November. The analysis includes solutions for the mission’s problems and the “JPL institutional issues” that contributed to the delay.

Psyche on Trail

Engineers must ensure the software performs as intended when the spacecraft takes off. To point the antenna of the spacecraft toward Earth for data transmission and communications while it travels through space, the guidance and navigation software is used. Additionally, that program gives trajectory data to the spacecraft’s propulsion system.

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According to Leshin, “The project is very close to finishing every aspect of software testing, which was the primary obstacle at the time of the delay, and that has gone well. The team is on track within the margin.” “Our team is leaving for Florida to start the spacecraft’s last testing before launch. I’m happy to inform you that everything is going well and that we will debut in October.

According to the report, Covid-19 contributed to the pause, but the committee also found that management oversight, staffing, and communication needed to be improved

NASA's Psyche Mission: Getting Ready to Explore a Metal World
NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

In response, JPL made several adjustments to prepare the Psyche mission for launch. These adjustments included restructuring the company’s staff, establishing a hybrid work philosophy to encourage the team to spend more time together, and bringing on more seasoned team members.

Impending Journey of Psyche Spacecraft

The asteroid, also known as Psyche, will be reached by spacecraft after a 450 million km (280 million miles) voyage in August 2029, after which it will enter a 26-month orbit around it. The Psyche asteroid has so much metal that some researchers think it may represent the exposed core of a planetesimal or a young planet that split into layers.

The outer layers may have been peeled away over time by collisions with other astronomical objects, exposing the metallic core. Studying Psyche would be like looking inside the center of an Earth-like planet if it were a core.

Only a fuzzily blurred image of the potato-shaped asteroid is visible to ground- and space-based observatories. According to NASA, the strange item might perhaps be a chunk of primordial matter that never melted.

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☛ Read Also: Chandrayaan 3

Written By

Sharmistha is an accomplished content writer, specializing in SEO Content Writing, blogs, and articles. Previously, she worked with India's largest edtech giant and now she is developing her skills in digital marketing across various aspects. With a Master's Degree in Environmental Sciences, she brings a unique perspective to her writing, blending her passion for engaging and informative content creation that captivates audiences. Sharmistha's compelling narrative and profound knowledge make her a versatile writer who easily communicates with readers' diverse minds.

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