NASA is eyeing up a nearby asteroid that contains enough gold to make everyone on Earth a billionaire.
The US space agency is plotting to launch a mission to Psyche 16 in 2022 to explore the origins of the Solar System.
Discovered in the late 19th Century, Psyche is nestled between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter and is made of solid metal.
As well as gold, the hefty object is thought to be loaded with heaps of platinum, iron and nikel.
In total, it’s estimated that Psyche’s various metals are worth a gargantuan £8,000 quadrillion.
That means if it were carried back to Earth, it would destroy commodity prices and cause the world’s economy – worth £59.5trillion – to collapse.
We’ve known about Psyche 16 for a while, but its potential to cause havoc on Earth was recently touched upon by a veteran miner.
Scott Moore, who heads up EuroSun Mining, said the sheer amount of gold in the asteroid threatens to throw the gold industry into chaos.
“The ‘Titans of Gold’ now control hundreds of the best-producing properties around the world,” he told Oil Price.
“But the 4-5 million ounces of gold they bring to the market every year pales in comparison to the conquests available in space.”
Nasa is launching a mission to probe the asteroid in August 2022. Dubbed the Discovery Mission, it will arrive at Psyche 16 around 2026.
What do we know about quadrillion pound asteroid Psyche?
- Arizona State University researchers say that Psyche 16 was discovered in 1852 by Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis.
- He is thought to have named the asteroid after the ancient Greek goddess of the soul.
- Psyche is 113 km across, making it about twice as wide as Wales.
- It sits 230million miles from Earth and is one of the heaviest objects in the Solar System.
- The large asteroid is most likely a survivor of violent hit-and-run collisions, common when the Solar System was forming.
- What gives Psyche great scientific interest is that it is made of metal.
- It appears to be composed of iron and nickel, two of the building blocks of the Solar System.
- That means the hefty space object could provide clues to how our planet formed.
- Most terrestrial planets – including Earth – have a core made of ice or rock or a mixture of the two.
- Because we cannot see or measure Earth’s core directly, Psyche offers a unique window into the violent history of collisions and accretion that created the planets.
But bringing back an asteroid of this value could completely wipe out our global economy.
Fortunately, the space agency is taking the trip for scientific purposes and isn’t planning on conducting any mining.
“Over 21 months in orbit, the spacecraft will map and study 16 Psyche’s properties using a multispectral imager, a gamma-ray and neutron spectrometer, a magnetometer, and a radio instrument (for gravity measurement)” Nasa says.
“The mission’s goal is, among other things, to determine whether Psyche is indeed the core of a planet-sized object.”
Nasa reckons 16 Psyche is a survivor of violent hit-and-run collisions between planets which were common when the solar system was forming.
That means it could tell us how Earth’s core and the cores of the other terrestrial planets were formed.
Two space mining companies – backed by big name celebs – are gearing up for a gold rush after asteroid ownership was made legal in 2015.
Deep Space Industries and Planetary Resources each have their eyes on the 2011 UW158 asteroid which is twice the size of the Tower of London and worth up to £4.5trillion.
In other news, Nasa’s Perseverance rover has created breathable oxygen.
Nasa recently completed the first controlled flight on another planet following the lift-off of its Mars helicopter-drone, Ingenuity.
Nasa has baffled space fans by releasing an image of what appears to be a rainbow on Mars.
And, the mystery surrounding what looks like giant spiders on the surface of Mars may finally have been solved.
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