NASA plans to launch a spacecraft Psyche on October 5, to a distance of 280 million miles from the Earth (about 451 million kilometers) a metal asteroid, called 16 Psyche. this asteroid may be the remnants of the core of an unformed planet, composed of nickel and other metals.
By studying 16 Psyche, NASA hopes to understand the structure and properties of Earth’s core and how it affects the planet’s magnetic field and adaptability to life. The Earth’s inner core is not directly observable because it is located at a depth of 1,800 miles (about 2,896.82 kilometers) below the surface.
The Psyche spacecraft will arrive at 16 Psyche in 2026 and orbit it for 26 months at four different altitudes. It will use a variety of instruments to take images of the asteroid and measure its gravity, magnetic field and electromagnetic radiation, data that will help NASA determine whether 16 Psyche is indeed a planetary core. However, NASA does not plan to mine 16 Psyche, just study it.
In addition, the spacecraft will test some new communication and propulsion systems. It will use a laser communication system to transmit data, which can transmit 100 times more data than traditional radio communication systems. It will also use a solar electric propulsion system to power four Hall thrusters, utilizing solar energy and xenon gas to accelerate flight.