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article imageWater detected on asteroid named Psyche

By Tim Sandle     Nov 20, 2016 in Science
Houston - Water has been detected water on the largest metallic asteroid in the solar system by a team of NASA scientists. The asteroid is called Psyche and it could become the target of a space mission.
Psyche is one of the ten most massive asteroids in the asteroid belt. The asteroid is some 200 kilometers in diameter. The asteroid is considered to have once been the exposed iron core of a protoplanet. Psyche was discovered by Annibale de Gasparis in 1852 from Naples.
The person who led the discovery project was Dr. Joshua Emery together with Dr. Driss Takir. The discovery was made by telescopic examination. The main composition of Psyche is nickel-iron metal. However, due to more detailed investigation made possible via the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility in Hawaii it is now probable there is water present on the surface.
As to where the water may have come from, it is possible that water-rich minerals detected on Psyche were delivered by carbonaceous asteroids that impacted into Psyche millions of years ago.
The significance of the find is that the asteroid may contain water-rich minerals. A plan is being developed to see if a spacecraft can be sent to the asteroid to investigate further. The Psyche spacecraft would use solar electric propulsion. On its notional payload an imager, a magnetometer and a gamma-ray spectrometer would each be included. If a probe was launched it would take some six years to reach the asteroid and to touch down on its surface.
Plans are also being advanced to send a space probe to asteroids Bennu and Ryugu. The idea is for a probe to land, collect carbonaceous samples, and then return to Earth. Such a feat has not previously been attempted.
The research has been published in the Astronomical Journal. The paper is headed “Detection of Water and/or Hydroxyl on Asteroid (16) Psyche.”
More about Asteroid, Water, Solar system, psyche
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