The varied surface of asteroid Psyche suggests a dynamic history, which could include metallic eruptions, asteroid-shaking impacts, and a lost rocky mantle.
Later this year, probe the size of a tennis court to the asteroid belt, a region between the orbits of metal-rich asteroid that is thought to be the ancient core of an early planet. The probe, named after its asteroid target, will then spend close to two years orbiting and analyzing Psyche’s surface for clues to how early planetary bodies evolved.
Ahead of the mission, which is led by principal investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton ’87, SM ’87, PhD ’02, planetary scientists at
Overall, Psyche’s surface was found to be surprisingly varied in its properties.
The new maps hint at the asteroid’s history. Its rocky regions could be vestiges of an ancient mantle — similar in composition to the rocky outermost layer of Earth, Mars, and the asteroid Vesta — or the…