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Monday, January 9, 2017

Psyche


Psyche and Spacecraft

Video is an artists concept, but a very cool one. The asteroid is Psyche 16 and this is some real Star Trek shit: we're sending a probe to investigate an anomaly:
The Psyche mission will explore one of the most intriguing targets in the main asteroid belt - a giant metal asteroid, known as 16 Psyche, about three times farther away from the sun than is the Earth. This asteroid measures about 130 miles (210 kilometers) in diameter and, unlike most other asteroids that are rocky or icy bodies, is thought to be comprised mostly of metallic iron and nickel, similar to Earth's core. Scientists wonder whether Psyche could be an exposed core of an early planet that could have been as large as Mars, but which lost its rocky outer layers due to a number of violent collisions billions of years ago. - JPL
An asteroid that is mostly iron and nickel should have a stronger gravitational field than one made of rock, as iron is denser than rock. I suspect that a planet half the diameter of Earth, but made entirely of iron would have a surface gravity as great as we have here on Earth. Wouldn't make much difference in this case, Psyche is only about hundred miles in diameter, not a couple of thousand.

If this thing is really solid metal, it would make prospecting for metallic ore asteroids moot: here is all the metal we'll ever need. Of course, we would need some new mining techniques. There are big chunks of solid copper buried up in Northern Michigan that no one has dug up because how do you cut up a 100 ton chunk of solid copper into pieces small enough to handle?

Back to the video. Watching the probe 'fly' over the surface was mesmerizing. I'm thinking we need a live feed from the ISS (International Space Station). Set up a big screen TV somewhere where you would like to have a window and just let it play all the time. Star Trek @ home.

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