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Asteroid 16 Psyche might not be what scientists expected

Accepted submission by aristarchus at 2021-06-10 02:34:51 from the That's-no-moon dept.

Psyche 16 may not be solid metal, after all. News at [],

The widely studied metallic asteroid known as 16 Psyche was long thought to be the exposed iron core of a small planet that failed to form during the earliest days of the solar system. But new University of Arizona-led research suggests that the asteroid might not be as metallic or dense as once thought, and hints at a much different origin story.

Scientists are interested in 16 Psyche because if its presumed origins are true, it would provide an opportunity to study an exposed planetary core up close. NASA is scheduled to launch its Psyche mission in 2022 and arrive at the asteroid in 2026.

UArizona undergraduate student David Cantillo is lead author of a new paper published in The Planetary Science Journal that proposes 16 Psyche is 82.5% metal, 7% low-iron pyroxene and 10.5% carbonaceous chondrite that was likely delivered by impacts from other asteroids. Cantillo and his collaborators estimate that 16 Psyche's bulk density—also known as porosity, which refers to how much empty space is found within its body—is around 35%.

These estimates differ from past analyses of 16 Psyche's composition that led researchers to estimate it could contain as much as 95% metal and be much denser.

More information: David C. Cantillo et al, "Constraining the Regolith Composition of Asteroid (16) Psyche via Laboratory Visible Near-infrared Spectroscopy," The Planetary Science Journal (2021). DOI: 10.3847/PSJ/abf63b

And, Journal Information. []

The news that Psyche is not really worth all that much,

Asteroid 16 Psyche has been estimated to be worth $10,000 quadrillion (that's $10,000 followed by 15 more zeroes), but the new findings could slightly devalue the iron-rich asteroid.

Precipitated a collapse of other unknown psyche things, like cryptocurrency.

Original Submission