Later this year, NASA will launch an investigation equivalent to the tennis court to the asteroid belt, the region between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter where the remains of the original solar system orbit the Sun. Once inside the asteroid belt, the spacecraft will enter Psyche, a giant, iron-rich asteroid thought to be the ancient backbone of the original planet. The probe, named after its target name, will spend about two years moving around and analyzing the Psyche space to determine how the worlds began to emerge.

Before the campaign, led by lead investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton ’87, SM’87, Ph.D., ’02, planetary scientists at MIT and elsewhere have now provided glimpses of what the Psyche spacecraft can see when it arrives at its destination.

In a paper published June 15, 2022, in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Planets, a team of planetary scientists is presenting detailed maps of the asteroid surface to date, based on observations made by a large telescope series in northern Chile. . The maps reveal the iron-rich regions sweeping the entire asteroid universe, as well as the intense stress that appears to have a distinct local texture between the interior and its edge; this difference can show a crater filled with fine sand and decorated with rocker materials.

Overall, Psyche’s face was surprisingly different in its areas.

New maps show the history of the asteroid. Its rocky regions may be remnants of an old cloak – similar to the formation of the outer layer of rock, Mars, and the asteroid Vesta – or the impact of previous effects on celestial rocks. Finally, craters containing metallic material support the view suggested by previous studies that the asteroid may have encountered the first explosion of metal mud as its old core cools.

“Psyche’s face is very different,” said lead author Saverio Cambioni, Crosby Distinguished Postdoctoral Fellow at the MIT Department of Earth, Atmospheric and Planetary Sciences (EAPS). “It is a place of change, and these maps confirm that iron-rich asteroids are exciting, mysterious worlds. It is another reason to look forward to the Psyche mission to space. “

Co-authors Cambioni Katherine de Kleer, assistant professor of planetary astronomy and astronomy, and Michael Shepard, professor of ecology, geography, and geology at Bloomsburg University.

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Alice is the Chief Editor with relevant experience of three years, Alice has founded Galaxy Reporters. She has a keen interest in the field of science. She is the pillar behind the in-depth coverages of Science news. She has written several papers and high-level documentation.

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