Space travel to the “metal world” resumes

Space travel to the “metal world” resumes

NASA’s efforts to get the Psyche mission back on track have paid off. This mission should depart in the fall of 2023. Towards an asteroid rich in metals, a “world of metal”.

This is very good news that came from NASA on June 5, 2023. The Psyché mission, which had some setbacks last year, is back on track. The United States Space Agency, in its waypointreveals that the mission “ remarkable progress “. The preparations for the launch are in addition on track “.

Barring a dramatic change, the launch will take place in October 2023.” We know the job is not done yet Nicola Fox, administrator associated with the direction of NASA’s science mission, tempered. However, she appreciated the independent review panel’s “positive review” of efforts to restore the bar.

A mission to the asteroid Psyche

The Psyche mission takes the name of the asteroid — (16) Psyche — that a probe will visit at the end of the decade. The asteroid is of interest to astronomers because its structure is clearly rich in metals. We count on a composition in which iron and nickel are mixed, but other elements may also be present. That’s why (16) Psyche got the nickname metal world.

But in June 2022, boom. The US space agency has waived a mission departure for the current year. A committee was then set up during the summer released its first conclusions in November. At that time, many problems had been identified with regard to the implementation of the project, the workload, the verification procedures or the quality of certain software.

The coronavirus pandemic, which had the strongest effects in 2020 and 2021, also contributed to the launch delay. Other factors have been identified, including labor issues for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). Difficulties that have hindered the proper conduct of the spacecraft tests to conduct them correctly.

An artist’s depiction of Psyche. // Source : NASA

Bugs that are now fixed or in development. ” The steps NASA, JPL and Caltech have taken to get the Psyche mission back on track […] were remarkable the US space agency said, citing a May 30 report. Lessons that will also be used for other missions, such as Europa Clipper and Mars Sample Return.

It now remains to be seen whether the bumps on the road to Psyche are well behind the American space agency and whether there will be no further inconveniences in the future. During the update of the summer phase in 2022, NASA indicated that it has two recording windows available: one in 2023 and one in 2024. A shift to the second date is not formally ruled out.

Psyche has to go into space thanks to a Falcon Heavy rocket from SpaceX. When the mission departs this fall, the probe will arrive near the asteroid in August 2029. It will then rotate for 26 months to understand the formation of telluric planets, what their insides contain, and to understand the specifics of this metallic world. .

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