NASA will send a spacecraft to the metal-rich asteroid Psyche containing metals worth about $10,000 quadrillion.
NASA is launching a spaceship to the metal-rich asteroid Psyche next year with a futuristic propulsion technology that generates a 'cool blue light.'
NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California is developing a spacecraft to investigate this strange rock, which is believed to be the core of a long-destroyed planet early in the history of the solar system.
The spacecraft, named Psyche, will travel 1.5 billion miles in 3.5 years to reach the space rock, expected to arrive in 2026. It will employ solar electric thrusters and tanks full of xenon (922kg in total), the natural gas used in automobile headlights and plasma screens, to travel such a long distance.
The four thrusters will use electromagnetic fields to accelerate and eject charged xenon atoms to produce thrust and blue light beams.
The spacecraft will reach an asteroid 230 million miles away from Earth at a maximum speed of 200,000 miles per hour.
It will use SpaceX's Falcon Heavy chemical rocket engine to blast out from Earth's surface and escape gravity. However, once Psyche is separated from the launch vehicle, the rest of the voyage will be powered by solar electric propulsion, starting with a huge solar array that converts sunlight into energy to power the spacecraft's engines.
The Psyche asteroid is filled with precious metals worth 10,000 trillion U.S. dollars, which are enough to destroy commodity prices and cause the world economy to collapse.
Image credit: NASA