Asteroid sample contains water, carbon, NASA says
Seven years after launching a spacecraft, NASA finally has its hands on a sample from a 4.7-billion-year-old asteroid.LEARN MORE
NASA launched its Psyche mission toward a rare, metallic asteroid of the same name orbiting between Mars and Jupiter.
A NASA spacecraft has set out on its six-year journey to a rare metal-covered asteroid.
The Psyche mission aboard SpaceX's Falcon Heavy launched from NASA's Kennedy Space Center Friday morning toward the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.
Just over an hour after the launch, the Psyche spacecraft separated from SpaceX's largest operational rocket, setting off into the darkness and sending its first signal back to NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory facility about five minutes later.
The spacecraft will reach the "unique metal-rich asteroid" — also named Psyche — by August 2029, NASA said.
This is the agency's first mission to study an asteroid that has more metal than rock or ice. And due its high metal content, scientists believe the Psyche asteroid could be the partial core of a planetesimal, which is a building block of an early planet.
The potato-shaped object is the biggest of the nine or so metallic asteroids NASA has discovered, measuring about 173 miles across at its widest point and 144 miles long with a surface area of 64,000 square miles.
It was the 16th asteroid to be discovered when it was found in 1852, named after the Greek goddess of the soul.
Scientists believe getting a closer look now could explain more about Earth's core and how other rocky or terrestrial planets came to be, NASA said.
But they could be proven wrong, as they don't exactly know until they can see it close up.
Once Psyche reaches the Psyche asteroid, orbiting the Sun about three times farther away than Earth, the spacecraft will spend about two years in its orbit, taking pictures and mapping its surface while collecting data about its composition.
The spacecraft will send images to Earth as soon as it spots the gray rock, which scientists believe is brimming with iron, nickel and silicate. Earth's core is made of iron and nickel.
A mother shares how being an astronaut is helping her inspire women everywhere, and her young daughter, to believe there is no limit to their goals.
Scientists wanted to study star HD110067 after noticing dips in the star's brightness. They were not disappointed.
NASA is counting on SpaceX's Starship to land astronauts on the moon by the end of 2025 or soon thereafter.
The two schools will reportedly pay about $14 million to the Mountain West next year as part of the agreement.
Advocates say the change could serve as a road map for other states that have failed to expand the program.
Authorities are investigating the case as possible animal cruelty, a felony in Oklahoma that's punishable by up to five years in prison.