Innumerable amounts of asteroids exist in the asteroid belt that resides between Mars and Jupiter in orbit around the Sun, but one specimen in particular appears to stand out to planetary scientists more than any others – one commonly known as Psyche.
While most asteroids are merely space rocks left behind from a violent beginning, Psyche is mostly metallic. More specifically, it’s comprised of iron and nickel metals, which are some of the same elements that reside in terrestrial planet cores.
One theory speculates that Psyche could be the core of a failed protoplanet, and if that’s true, then we could learn a lot from studying it. After all, humankind has yet to dig to Earth’s core to study it in person, and doing so doesn’t seem particularly feasible.
To learn more about Psyche, NASA plans to send a mission that will explore the world with a suite of scientific instruments. These will include cameras, multispectral imagers, magnetometers, and a gamma ray and neutron spectrometer. These tools will tell us what Psyche looks like, whether it sports a magnetic field, and hint us to its physical composition.
It ought to be interesting to see what we might learn from this mission, especially if theories are to be believed.