NASA Delays the Launch of Its Mission to the 16 Psyche Asteroid

NASA Delays the Launch of Its Mission to the 16 Psyche Asteroid

16 Psyche is an asteroid so huge that it would make Chicxulub, the space rock that killed the dinosaurs roughly 60 million years ago, look like nothing. While that ancient impactor measured only 10 kilometers in its diameter, 16 Psyche measures 20 times more. And we’re not even exaggerating! 

Having a diameter that measures 200 km, 16 Psyche is one of the biggest asteroids located in the asteroid belt. We suspected even since early 2021 that NASA is preparing to send a spacecraft to the asteroid to see better what’s cooking there. Considering that 16 Psyche has a high composition of iron and nickel, there’s no wonder why astronomers are willing to get there.

Jokes aside, for now! NASA initially wanted to send the mission to the 16 Psyche asteroid this year. The mission itself is simply called ‘Psyche.’ But now, the project gets delayed due to objective reasons. The American space agency made the announcement via its official website, so there’s no room for doubt. 

More time for testing the software is needed

The flight software and testing equipment needed for NASA’s mission was delivered later than expected. As a result, the space agency cannot run the tests on time anymore.  

Laurie Leshin, the JPL Director, explained as NASA’s website quotes:

Flying to a distant metal-rich asteroid, using Mars for a gravity assist on the way there, takes incredible precision. We must get it right. Hundreds of people have put remarkable effort into Psyche during this pandemic, and the work will continue as the complex flight software is thoroughly tested and assessed,

The decision to delay the launch wasn’t easy, but it is the right one.

Contrary to what some people might have believed, the 16 Psyche asteroid is not rich in gold. It’s rich in other metals, instead, but gold is not among them.

Stay tuned for more news on the subject!

Cristian Antonescu

Even since he was a child, Cristian was staring curiously at the stars, wondering about the Universe and our place in it. Today he's seeing his dream come true by writing about the latest news in astronomy. Cristian is also glad to be covering health and other science topics, having significant experience in writing about such fields.

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