NASA suspends Psyche’s mission into an unexplored world of metal

Psyche Mission 2022 the launch window, which opened on August 1 and closes on October 11, will close until the spacecraft flight software is ready. Due to delays in delivering the software and its testing equipment, the Psyche team did not have enough time to test before launching.

Engineers want to be absolutely sure that the software will work as expected when the spacecraft will fly.

Used to control the orientation of a spacecraft as it flies through space, guidance and navigation software helps guide its antenna to Earth for communication and data transmission. The software also provides a spacecraft propulsion system with trajectory information.

When testing at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, engineers discovered a compatibility issue in software test bench simulators. The problem has since been resolved, but there is not enough time for a full inspection and launch in 2022.

The Space Agency will set up an independent assessment team to review the mission and determine the way forward, including estimated costs and possible launch options in 2023 and 2024. The Psyche spacecraft is currently at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

“Flying into a distant metal-rich asteroid using Mars as a gravitational aid is incredibly accurate. We need to do it right. During this pandemic, hundreds of people have put tremendous effort into the psyche, and the work will continue as sophisticated flight software is thoroughly tested and evaluated, ”said JPL Director Laurie Leshin. “It simply came to our notice then.

Mission time makes it difficult to move forward. 2022 the launch of the spacecraft would be transported to an asteroid, also known as the Psyche, by 2026. However, next year’s launch periods mean that the spacecraft will arrive much later due to different orbital positions, such as 2029 or 2030.

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“Our amazing team has overcome almost all of the incredible challenges of building a spacecraft through Covid,” said Lindy Elkins-Tanton, a senior Psyche researcher and regent professor at the Foundation and the University of Arizona School of Earth and Space Research.

“We’ve overcome a lot of hardware and software challenges, and we’ve finally been stopped by this last problem. We just need a little more time, and this one will be licked too. The team is ready to move forward and I’m very grateful for their mastery.”

The delay will also halt two projects that had to fly with Psyche on the same SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket at launch.

The first is NASA’s Janus mission to study twin-binary asteroid systems, and the second is a demonstration of Deep Space Optical Communications technology. This demo is designed to test high-speed laser communications that can change the way ground commands communicate with spacecraft in deep space.

There are also many innovations in the spacecraft, such as ion propulsion rather than traditional rocket fuel.

If a decision is made to launch Psyche in the coming years, the spacecraft will embark on a journey of 280 million miles (450 million kilometers). The asteroid “Psyche” is so rich in metals that some scientists believe it is an exposed core of the planet or a planet that is divided into layers.

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Over time, collisions with other celestial objects could tear off the outer layers and reveal the remaining metal core. If the Psyche is truly a nucleus, its exploration would be tantamount to looking at the heart of a planet like Earth.

The potato-shaped asteroid on Earth and space telescopes looks only blurry. According to NASA, an unusual object can also be a piece of primordial material that has never melted.

This image shows how scientists think the Psyche asteroid looks up close.

The results of the evaluation team will determine whether this mission will start next year or be justified.

“I want to emphasize that NASA remains fully committed to scientific discovery and small-body exploration,” said Lori Glaze, director of NASA’s Planetary Science Division.

“This is shown by our current missions OSIRIS-REx, Lucy and DART. We look forward to reviewing the Mental Tests to better understand what the road will look like.”

Godfrey Kemp

"Bacon fanatic. Social media enthusiast. Music practitioner. Internet scholar. Incurable travel advocate. Wannabe web junkie. Coffeeaholic. Alcohol fanatic."

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