Scientists have spotted an extremely rare metallic asteroid floating between Mars and Jupiter and have placed its value as $10,000,000,000,000,000,000, or more than the entire global economy.
The asteroid, known as 16 Psyche, is 230-million miles away and is roughly 140-miles across – roughly the size of Massachusetts.
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The reason for its estimated value is that it is comprised mostly of iron and nickel, unlike the rock and ice of most asteroids. Scientists hypothesize that It is the leftover core of a protoplanet, a planet that never finished forming.
“We’ve seen meteorites that are mostly metal, but Psyche could be unique in that it might be an asteroid that is totally made of iron and nickel. Earth has a metal core, a mantle, and crust. It’s possible that as a Psyche protoplanet was forming, it was struck by another object in our solar system and lost its mantle and crust.”
– lead scientist Dr. Tracy Becker
NASA plans to launch an unmanned craft in 2022 to study the rare asteroid, hopefully offering us insight into the inside of a planet.
“What makes Psyche and the other asteroids so interesting is that they’re considered to be the building blocks of the solar system. To understand what really makes up a planet and to potentially see the inside of a planet is fascinating. Once we get to Psyche, we’re really going to understand if that’s the case, even if it doesn’t turn out as we expect. Any time there’s a surprise, it’s always exciting.”
– Dr. Tracy Becker
The craft would arrive at the asteroid in January 2026 to study it for nearly two years.