NASA’s Psyche spacecraft has reached a major milestone in its journey to explore the asteroid Psyche. The spacecraft has been connected to the payload attach fitting in a clean room at the Astrotech Space Operations facility in Titusville, Florida.
Set to launch on Thursday, October 5, 2023, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center, Psyche will travel for nearly six years and cover a distance of about 2.2 billion miles to reach the asteroid. Psyche is located between Mars and Jupiter and is believed to be part of the core of a planetesimal.
The purpose of the mission is to study the asteroid and gain insights into the composition of Earth’s core. By analyzing the asteroid, scientists hope to learn more about the origins and evolution of terrestrial planets.
NASA will provide extensive coverage of the prelaunch and launch activities for the Psyche mission. The live coverage without commentary will begin at 9:15 a.m. EDT on the NASA Television media channel. The live coverage with commentary will start at 9:30 a.m. on various platforms including YouTube, Facebook, and the NASA app.
Prior to the launch, NASA will hold a mission and science briefing on October 10, where experts will discuss the objectives and significance of the Psyche mission. On October 11, a prelaunch news conference will be held to provide updates on the mission’s readiness.
In addition to its primary mission of studying the asteroid Psyche, the spacecraft will also carry a technology demonstration called NASA’s Deep Space Optical Communications. This demonstration aims to test the use of lasers to transmit data at increased rates.
During its 26-month observation period, the Psyche spacecraft will utilize various instruments to study the asteroid. These instruments include a multispectral imager, gamma-ray and neutron spectrometer, and magnetometer.
The Psyche mission is a collaboration between Arizona State University, which leads the mission, and NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, which is responsible for mission management and operations. The spacecraft chassis was provided by Maxar Technologies, and NASA’s Launch Services Program is managing the launch service.
The Psyche mission marks the 14th mission selected as part of NASA’s Discovery Program. Additionally, JPL manages the Deep Space Optical Communications technology demonstration, which adds an important technological aspect to the mission.
As the launch date approaches, anticipation grows for the Psyche mission. Scientists and space enthusiasts alike are eager to uncover the secrets held by the asteroid Psyche and gain a deeper understanding of our own planet’s core.
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