The dead, metallic heart of an ancient, obliterated Mars circles the sun—and in 2022, NASA will launch a mission to the asteroid belt to explore it. The Psyche spacecraft, which will visit an asteroid of the same name, recently passed its preliminary design review at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Next month, NASA headquarters will decide whether or not to give the Arizona State University-led project permission to begin bending metal for the spacecraft.
Because the target asteroid is such a weird, alien object, the mission is one of true exploration. Planetary scientists have no idea what they’ll find when they get there, so they have to plan for anything.
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