NASA experts have successfully completed the design stage of the automatic interplanetary station of the Psyche, which will explore metallic Main-belt asteroid (16) Psyche, and moved to fabrication stage of all systems and scientific instruments. The launch of the station into space is scheduled for August 2022, and the asteroid she should arrive in early 2026, reported on the website NASA.
The aim of the new interplanetary station of the Psyche, developed by NASA in the framework of the Discovery was the asteroid (16) Psyche, located in the Main asteroid belt. It belongs to the spectral class M and contains a lot of metals such as iron, Nickel, gold and platinum. This is one of the heaviest currently known asteroids that its mass is about of 2.41×1019 kg, and dimensions — 274×231×176 kilometers. It is assumed that the Psyche can be a metal core proto-planet or a fragment thereof, which is formed as a result of collision with a large celestial body in the early Solar system. Detailed studies of such bodies can not only learn more about the mechanisms of formation of planets and nuclei, but also to help in the development of technologies of mining operations in space.
The start of the mission is scheduled for August 2022, to the asteroid station will get with the help of hall thruster enginesthat use xenon, all the power of this system will provide solar panels. It is expected that Psyche will come to the asteroid at the end of January 2026, after which it will begin a comprehensive study of orbit with the help of magnetometers, multispectral camera, gamma-ray and neutron spectrometer, and the microwave instrument for the study of gravitational fields of the psyche and its internal structure. For data transmission to Earth will be used the experimental system of laser communication DSOC (Deep Space Optical Communications). Data collected by the station, will help to map the surface of psyche, to explore its internal structure and composition, to understand whether it is the core of the protoplanet, and help to restore the picture of its formation and further evolution.
7 July 2020 NASA has announced the completion of the design phase of the station, which included the creation of drawings of all elements of the apparatus and scientific instruments, manufacturing and testing of prototypes and the engineering models and final inspection of all systems of the station. Now the experts will go to the stage of creation of scientific instruments and subsystems of the station. Beginning of Assembly and testing is scheduled for February 2021 April 2021 all appliances should be delivered to the main clean room at the jet propulsion Laboratory of NASA, which will be carried out all the work.
Another interplanetary spacecraft, whose launch will take place a year later, became “Lucy”who will explore the Trojan asteroids of Jupiter. Recently it became clearthat the asteroid of Eurobat, which is one of the goals of the station, has a small satellite which makes it a very interesting object to study.