Psyche mission

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NASA's Psyche spacecraft is set to embark on a groundbreaking mission to explore a metal-rich asteroid named Psyche.

About Psyche mission:

  • The journey to the asteroid, also named Psyche, will span nearly six years and cover approximately 3.6 billion kilometers.
  • The asteroid orbits the Sun between Mars and Jupiter.
  • It is believed to be a remnant core of a planetesimal, composed primarily of iron-nickel metal. 
  • Studying it from orbit could provide invaluable insights into the composition of Earth's core.
  • In addition to its primary mission, the Psyche spacecraft will also host a pioneering technology demonstration known as NASA’s Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) experiment.
  • This laser communications system aims to test high-bandwidth optical communications back to Earth during the first two years of Psyche's journey.
  • This experiment could revolutionise how data is transmitted across vast distances in space, potentially enhancing our ability to explore the farthest reaches of the solar system.
  • NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory is responsible for mission management, operations and navigation.


What is Deep Space Optical Communication (DSOC)?

  • It is a sophisticated new laser communication technology that encodes data in photons at near-infrared wavelengths (rather than radio waves) to communicate between a probe in deep space and Earth.
  • Using light instead of radio allows the spacecraft to communicate more data in a given amount of time.
  • The DSOC team is based at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory.


Q1) What are Asteroids?

Asteroids are rocky and metallic objects that orbit the Sun and are significantly smaller than planets. They are sometimes referred to as minor planets or planetoids. Asteroids are remnants from the early solar system, dating back billions of years.

Source: Nasa to launch Psyche mission to metal-rich asteroid to find how Earth formed