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NASA has officially launched a mission to study an asteroid with more than $10,000 quadrillion worth of precious metals on it. The asteroid is literally so "rich" that it would make everyone on Earth a billionaire if its haul was divided equally, according to The Independent.
The asteroid is named Psyche 16 and it was first noticed all the way back in March of 1852. It's 124 miles wide and is set to be the "primary focus" of NASA's mission, which will take place in August 2022.
NASA's spacecraft would arrive at the asteroid in early 2026, according to the report.
“Unlike most other asteroids that are rocky or icy bodies, scientists think the M-type (metallic) asteroid 16 Psyche is comprised mostly of metallic iron and nickel similar to Earth," NASA said.
Image of the proposed NASA Mission to Psyche 16 (The Independent)
The asteroid is located between Mars and Jupiter and is believed to be the “remnants of a protoplanet destroyed by ‘hit-and-run collisions’ when the solar system formed.”
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A team in California helped create a temperature map to better understand the asteroid's surface properties.
The team discovered the surface of the asteroid was made up of "at least" 30% metal.
"The findings are a step toward resolving the mystery of the origin of this unusual object, which has been thought by some to be a chunk of the core of an ill-fated protoplanet”, one researcher said.
“We think that fragments of the cores, mantles, and crusts of these objects remain today in the form of asteroids. If that’s true, it gives us our only real opportunity to directly study the cores of planet-like objects,” concluded assistant professor of planetary science and astronomy at Caltech, Katherine de Kleer.
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