A 124 mile-wide asteroid named 'Psyche 16' has reached our solar system and is unofficially christened the 'Goldmine', as scientists believe it to be loaded with rich metals worth around $10,000 quadrillion.
NASA is presently conducting a study to know more about the 'goldmine' asteroid and is planning a mission to visit it by 2026. Unlike other rocky or icy asteroids, Psyche 16 is believed to be made of iron and nickel, which makes it rich with potential mining value.
The Psyche 16 asteroid has been orbiting the sun in the asteroid belt, which is a donut-shaped region in space located close between the Mars and the Jupiter and contains over a million rocks. The asteroid is measured to be around 200 million miles away from Earth.
NASA plans to land a spacecraft on the asteroid and spend 21 months in orbit studying its particles, properties and behavior. The mission plans to use technologies such as multispectral imager, gamma-ray and neutron spectrometer, a magnetometer, and a radio instrument (for gravity measurement) while on the asteroid.
Scientists speculate that the rich asteroid might have once been the core of an early planet and research toward that direction is currently ongoing. Another group of scientists speculate that the asteroid could be the result of the 'hit and run' collisions that occurred when the solar system was forming.
However, a team of scientists have recreated a temperature map of Psyche 16 in Pasadena, California, and are studying insights into what could be laying on its surface.
Ahead of the 2026 mission, the team examining the millimetre-wavelength emissions of the asteroid, that allowed them to produce the first temperature map of the asteroid.
''We think that fragments of the cores, mantles, and crusts of these objects remain today in the form of asteroids. If that's true, it gives us our only real opportunity to directly study the cores of planet-like objects,'' said Caltech's Katherine de Kleer, assistant professor of planetary science and astronomy to the DailyStar.
When and Who Discovered 'Psyche 16'?
The gigantic asteroid Psyche 16, which is laden with metals was discovered in 1852 by Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis. He named it Psyche after the Greek goddess of the soul who married Eros, commonly known the god of Love (Roman cupid).