NASA to study 16 Psyche asteroid worth $10,000 quadrillion
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) will launch a probe next year (2022) to study the asteroid 16 Psyche, which has been estimated at $10,000 quadrillion ($10,000 followed by 15 more zeroes).
The probe is expected to reach the targeted asteroid in 2026.
Metal asteroids are relatively rare in the solar system, and scientists believe Psyche could offer a unique opportunity to see inside a planet.
According to NASA, what makes the asteroid Psyche unique is that it appears to be the exposed nickel-iron core of an early planet, along with a number of other rare metals, including gold, platinum and copper.
The asteroid 16 Psyche is one of the most massive objects in the main asteroid belt orbiting between Mars and Jupiter.
It is about 370 million kilometers from Earth.
The study, published by researchers in the Planetary Sciences Journal, helps give a closer look at this asteroid, which is about 200 kilometers long, before the probe mission. The study revealed that the amount of heat radiated by the asteroid is 60 per cent less than was thought, which means that the asteroid suffers from thermal inertia.
Thermal emission on the asteroid is affected by the presence of metals on its surface, so scientists believe that metals make up at least 30 per cent of the surface.