Space & Astronomy
NASA to probe $10,000 quadrillion asteroid
By T.K. Randall
May 25, 2017 · 10 comments
This one asteroid is worth more than all the economies on Earth put together. Image Credit: NASA
The iron-rich asteroid 16 Psyche is so valuable that, if mined, it would collapse the global economy.
Named after a figure in Greek mythology who achieved immortality, 16 Psyche, which is almost entirely composed of nickel-iron metal, is worth so much money that its value would completely dwarf the meager $78 trillion of all the world's economies combined.
Measuring around 240km across, it is situated in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter and is believed to be the exposed iron core of a protoplanet left over from the early solar system.
Now in a renewed effort to explore the secrets of this highly-prized target, NASA has taken the decision to fast-track a new mission that will see a probe visit, for the first time, a world, not of rock or ice, but of solid metal and reveal what is perhaps the most alien landscape ever seen.
"It's such a strange object," said lead scientist Lindy Elkins-Tanton. "Even if we could grab a big metal piece and drag it back here, what would you do ?"
"Could you kind of sit on it and hide it and control the global resource - kind of like diamonds are controlled corporately - and protect your market ?"
"What if you decided you were going to bring it back and you were just going to solve the metal resource problems of humankind for all time ? This is wild speculation, obviously."
As things stand, the 16 Psyche Discovery Mission is set to launch in the summer of 2022.
Source: Science Alert
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