Psyche, the NASA mission to explore a metal-rock asteroid of the same name, recently passed a crucial milestone that brings it closer to its August 2022 launch date. Now the mission is moving from planning and designing to high-gear manufacturing of the spacecraft hardware that will fly to its target in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

Mission scientists and engineers worked together to plan the investigations that will determine what makes up the asteroid Psyche, one of the most intriguing targets in the main asteroid belt. Scientists think that, unlike most other asteroids that are rocky or icy bodies, Psyche is largely metallic iron and nickel – similar to Earth’s core – and could be the heart of an early planet that lost its outer layers.

In this image, an electric Hall thruster, identical to those that will be used to propel the Psyche spacecraft, undergoes testing at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory. The blue glow is produced by the xenon propellant, a neutral gas used in car headlights and plasma TVs.

Image Credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

最近,美国宇航局探索一颗名为Psyche的金属小行星的任务跨过了一个重要的里程碑,使它离2022年8月的发射日期更近了一步。现在,任务已经从计划和设计转移到高速制造航天器硬件,以便飞往位于火星木星之间的主要小行星带的目标。

这项任务的科学家和工程师一起计划调查,以确定是什么构成了小行星Psyche,这是小行星主带中最吸引人的目标之一。科学家们认为,与多数岩石或封的小行星不同,普赛克主要由金属铁和镍组成——类似于地球的核心——可能是一颗失去外层的早期行星的心脏。

在这张图片中,一个电霍尔推进器正在美国宇航局的喷气推进实验室接受测试,它与将用于推进普赛克宇宙飞船的推进器相同。这种蓝色辉光是由氙气推进剂产生的,氙气是一种用于汽车前灯和等离子电视的中性气体。

影像来源:NASA/JPL-Caltech/ASU

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