The NASA Psyche mission, which aims to explore the metal-rich asteroid 16 Psyche, has been rescheduled for a potential launch in October 2023. This comes after the mission missed its original launch date in 2022 and underwent an independent review. The delay was caused by a lack of time to complete testing due to the late delivery of flight software and testing equipment. Despite the delay, the mission’s science objectives and requirements remain unchanged and are expected to be as good or better than originally planned.
The Psyche mission will study the composition and origin of the asteroid, which is made largely of metals, and compare it to Earth’s core in order to learn more about our own planet’s formation. The spacecraft will arrive at the asteroid in 2029 and conduct operations from four different orbits to collect data on the asteroid’s characterization, topography, gravity, and elemental mapping. The mission team is excited to share the adventure with the public through student art and free online courses on the ASU mission website.
The mission will be led by Principal Investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton at Arizona State University, and the spacecraft is being built by Maxar Technologies in Palo Alto, California. Dr. Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator of NASA’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington, said in a statement regarding the delayed mission: “I appreciate the hard work of the independent review board and the JPL-led team toward mission success. The lessons learned from Psyche will be implemented across our entire mission portfolio. I am excited about the science insights Psyche will provide during its lifetime and its promise to contribute to our understanding of our own planet’s core.”