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Sat, Feb 04, 2023

NASA to Study Startlingly Valuable Asteroid

The Cold [Cash] of Space

In October 2023,  NASA will launch a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket containing sensitive scientific equipment to Psyche—an asteroid valued at a scarcely-believable sum of money. NASA sets forth that the rocket’s outbound journey to the asteroid will span some 42-months.

Upon arriving at Psyche, the spacecraft will commence a 21-month study by which NASA hopes to glean an understanding of the massive asteroid’s structure and history.

Discovered in 1852 by the Italian scientist Annibale de Gasparis and named for Psyche, the Greek goddess of the soul and wife of Eros, the Olympian god of love, the asteroid is among the largest in the solar system. With an average diameter of 220-kilometers, Psyche alone makes up one-percent of the mass of the asteroid belt strewn semi-homogeneously between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter. All told, the belt comprises between 1.1 and 1.9-million asteroids larger than one-kilometer, and millions more smaller asteroids.

Unlike the majority of asteroids which are made up of rock and ice, Astronomers posit Psyche is composed primarily of iron and nickel—an indication that the massive asteroid may be the core of a protoplanet that tried and failed to form billions of years ago.

In current dollar values, Psyche’s size and makeup suggest a worth of $10-quintillion—more than 70,000-times that of the entire global economy.

In addition to studying the asteroid and exciting the envy of the Earth’s avaricious, the appositely-named Psyche Program will vet new deep-space communications technologies that NASA theorizes could be used to transmit information across space more efficiently than extant architectures.

The contract for the launch is valued at $117-million—otherwise expressed as slightly more than one eight-billionth the value of the Psyche asteroid.

FMI: www.nasa.gov

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