Psyche, an asteroid orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter, is likely made largely of nickel-iron metal. As such, it offers a unique look into the violent collisions that created Earth and the terrestrial planets.
The NASA Psyche mission is led by principal investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton of ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration and ASU’s Interplanetary Initiative. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is responsible for the mission’s overall management, system engineering, integration and test, and mission operations. Maxar Technologies has provided the high-power solar electric propulsion spacecraft chassis.
The Psyche spacecraft is planned to launch in August 2022 and travel to the asteroid using solar-electric propulsion. After flying by Mars in 2023 for a gravity assist, the spacecraft will arrive at Psyche in 2026 and spend 21 months orbiting the asteroid, mapping it, and studying its properties.