A new study this week in The Planetary Science Journal is deeper than ever in the mysteries of the asteroid 16 Manas, one of the largest objects orbiting the solar system’s main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, about 230 million miles from Earth. Is one of It is about 140 miles in diameter – roughly the size of Massachusetts.
Most asteroids are made of rocks or ice. But 16 psyches are dense and mostly made of metal, presumably the remaining core of a planet that has never been successful in forming – a so-called “protoplanet”, whose hit-and-run collisions exposed its core after its body swept aside. Inheritance.
The study marks the first ultraviolet (UV) observations of a celestial object. New data suggests that the asteroid may be composed entirely of iron and nickel – found in the planet’s dense core.
One writer is Dr. “We have seen meteorites, which are mostly metal, but Psyche may be unique in that it may be an asteroid made entirely of iron and nickel,” Tracy Baker said in a statement. “Earth has a metal core, a mantle and a crust. It is possible that as Manas protoplanet, it collided with another object in our solar system and lost its mantle and crust.”
Scientists studied the asteroid at two points in its rotation to see details of both sides at full UV wavelength. They found that the surface may be mostly iron, but warned that even small amounts of iron would dominate UV observations.
“We were able to identify for the first time on any asteroid what we think are iron oxide ultraviolet absorption bands,” Baker said. “This is an indication that the asteroid is oxidizing, which may be the result of air hitting the surface.”
Solar wind is the flow of charged particles from the sun’s upper atmosphere throughout the solar system, called the corona. It is responsible for the comets’ tails as they climb into the sky, creating the Auroras and the possible “space weathering” of the psyche.
Researchers also said that the asteroid became more and more reflective at deeper UV wavelengths, which may give some indication of its age.
“This is something we need to study further,” said Baker. “It can be a sign of being exposed to space for so long. This type of UV brightening is often attributed to space weathering.”
Metal asteroids are rare, so Psych offers an exciting opportunity for researchers to study inside a planet. In 2022, NASA plans to launch the unmanned spacecraft Psyche on a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket to study the asteroid in an effort to understand its history and similar objects – a mission for the first time entirely from metal Bane will visit a body.
The orbiter is set to study it for about two years, arriving in the asteroid in January 2026. The mission leader at Arizona State University estimates that the price of iron alone in today’s market would be $ 10,000 quadrillion – it would be 19 zeros after another.
“What makes Manas and other asteroids so interesting is that they are considered the building blocks of the solar system,” Baker said. “To understand what really makes a planet and is potentially fascinating to look at inside a planet. Once we get to the psyche, we’re going to really understand what is the matter , Even if it’s not as predictable. It’s surprising at any time, it’s always exciting. ”
Researchers saidIn 2017, when the mission was confirmed, they do not plan to take advantage of the value of the asteroid’s structure.
“We are going to learn about planet formation, but we are not going to try to bring this material back and use it for industry,” said project scientist Carol Polanski of the Psyche Mission.