Science & Tech

Nasa is looking for diamonds and precious stones on metal asteroid

Nasa is looking for diamonds and precious stones on metal asteroid
NASA's Psyche mission: New spacecraft will visit a giant asteroid to tell …
Euronews Business / VideoElephant

Nasa is sending a rocket to a metallic asteroid between Mars and Jupiter in the hope of finding diamonds and rubies.

The mission, which is set to launch on Friday 13 October, will involve visiting the mysterious metallic asteroid 16 Psyche, which sits in an asteroid belt between the two planets.

The journey will take seven years for Falcon Heavy, a craft made by Elon Musk’s space exploration firm SpaceX.

It was due to take off on Thursday, but the launch was postponed because of bad weather.

Nasa Administrator Bill Nelson said: “We are launching a billion dollar spacecraft all the way beyond Mars and close to Jupiter and it’s going to snuggle up next to a metallic asteroid, and we are going to learn something about that metallic asteroid.

“I hope we might find diamonds and rubies on that asteroid.

“Everything is a new discovery, and we are glimpsing more of the development of this magnificent thing we call the universe.”

Falcon Heavy takes off on its four-billion-mile journey at 10.19am in Florida, from the Kennedy Space Center. That is 3.16pm UK time.

By May 2026, it will pass by Mars and use the planet’s gravitational force to slingshot itself toward the asteroid.

Four years later, it will reach its destination.

There, it will find a rock made up of iron and nickel, scientists believe. But they also think it could contain precious metals and gems.

16 Psyche has puzzled astronomers since it was discovered by Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis in 1852.

Psyche 16 is one of the more mysterious objects in the solar systemNASA

In the 1980s, radar readings found that it was made of metal, leading scientists to speculate that the 130-mile boulder lost its outer shell by colliding with other asteroids.

The spacecraft will spend about 26 months in orbit, taking images of the asteroid to get a clearer picture of its topography, surface features, gravity and magnetism.

The asteroid will not be mined – but space agencies might just start taking more notice if they find its one massive diamond.

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