A new study of the Hubble Space Telescope has revealed a clearer-than-ever image of one of the most interesting and valuable asteroids we know. It is asteroid 16 Psyche, located between Mars and Jupiter, which costs more than the entire world economy.
The study was led by Tracy Becker, planetary scientist at the American Southwest Research Institute and was published in The Planetary Science Journal. Provides a clearer-than-ever picture of the enigmatic celestial body.
Becker observed the asteroid at two specific points on its rotation to see both sides and draw as many conclusions as possible from observing its surface with ultraviolet waves.
16 Psyche measures more than 220 km and is one of the most massive objects of the main asteroid belt orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. Previous observations indicate that it is a dense, largely metallic object believed to be the leftover nucleus of a planet that never formed.
“We’ve seen meteorites that are mostly metal, but Psyche could be unique in that it might be an asteroid that is totally made of iron and nickel. Earth has a metal core, a mantle and crust. It’s possible that as a Psyche protoplanet was forming, it was struck by another object in our solar system and lost its mantle and crust,” Becker explains.
How much is 16 Psyche worth?
This asteroid is a unique object in our solar system. It is believed that the metals that make up it could be worth about $10 billion, while the world economy was valued at about $142 trillion in 2019.
To learn more about Psyche, NASA is preparing a spacecraft that will travel to the asteroid as part of an effort to understand the origin of planetary nuclei. The mission is scheduled to be launched in 2022. Metal asteroids are relatively rare in the solar system, and scientists believe it could offer a unique opportunity to see the inside of a planet.
“What makes Psyche and the other asteroids so interesting is that they’re considered to be the building blocks of the solar system. To understand what really makes up a planet and to potentially see the inside of a planet is fascinating. Once we get to Psyche, we’re really going to understand if that’s the case, even if it doesn’t turn out as we expect. Any time there’s a surprise, it’s always exciting,” Becker concludes.