The asteroid with a value of 20 figure dollars for NASA: a gigantic mass of metals between Mars and Jupiter

NASA Scientists have have found asteroid of 20 digits figure value. 16 Psyche is not just any asteroid. Orbiting in the Solar System between Mars and Jupiter, this star was discovered for the first time in 1852, but it is now that it is gaining more interest than ever. Not surprisingly, it is one of the most curious in the entire Solar System as it is essentially composed of metals and not rock. According to NASA calculations, its economic asteroid value if we exploited these metals is 10,000,000,000,000,000,000 dollars. To put that in context, about 10,000 times the entire 2019 world economy.

Measuring approximately 225 km across, asteroid 16 Psyche appears to be composed entirely of metals such as iron and nickel. If someone were to undermine it, the value it would have is immense. But of course, with such a large offer its value would drop sharply. On the other hand, space mining is not easy and the first steps are just being taken.

Asteroid value
Different views of 16 Psyche taken by HARISSSA. 
Via ESO.

Asteroid: The core of a planet that never formed

Beyond the mining of this asteroid, what makes it special is its composition itself. The Hubble Space Telescope collected data in 2017 on its composition using a spectrograph. Now more details have come out in a new study published in The Planetary Science Journal. With these data it was possible to determine which materials are those that form this asteroid and this is how the absence of rock and the presence in almost all of iron and nickel among other metals has been discovered.

Not being made of rocks or ice like most found in the Asteroid Belt, it is unique. Its composition almost entirely of metals such as iron and nickel make astronomers think that it may be the core of a planet that never formed. After all, it is like the nucleus of the Earth and the other three planets of the Solar System closest to the Sun. 16 Psyche would have been exactly the next solid planet that could have formed, since Jupiter is already a gaseous planet by its distance from the Sun.

Asteroid value

The asteroid is located about 470 million kilometers from Earth. A relatively close distance for NASA if we take into account that we have already sent several more distant probes in the Solar System and even outside it. The goal now is to explore it closely, very closely.

NASA plans to launch a mission in 2022 to reach the asteroid in 2026 to analyze it in detail. The mission called NASA Discovery Mission Psyche will send a probe aboard a SpaceX Falcon Heavy. In a way, it is going to be the only way a human could explore the core of a planet, since piercing our own is practically impossible.

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