A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Arizona has suggested that the previous understanding regarding asteroid 16 Psyche was entirely wrong. Earlier, scientists believed that asteroid 16 Psyche could be most probably the exposed iron core of a small planet that failed to form during the earliest days of the solar system. But now, the latest research suggests that the space rock might not be as metallic or dense as previously thought.
Asteroid 16 Psyche: All you need to know
Space scientists are very much interested in studying asteroid 16 Psyche, as it is expected to provide an opportunity to study an exposed planetary core up close. NASA, the United States space agency had already announced that they will launch a mission to this asteroid in 2022, and will make a landing in 2026.
The new research carried out by David Cantillo, an undergraduate student at the University of Arizona claimed that asteroid 16 Psych is 82.5 percent metal, 7 percent low-iron pyroxene, and 10.5 percent carbonaceous chondrite that was most probably delivered due to impacts from other asteroids. The research report also added that the porosity of asteroid 16 Psyche could be 35 percent.
Scientists were initially wrong about asteroid 16 Psyche
Earlier estimates had suggested that asteroid 16 Psyche could be 95 metal and denser. Cantillo's analysis reveals that asteroid 16 Psyche's characteristics are very similar to asteroid Bennu. It should be noted that NASA's OSIRIS REx mission had retrieved samples from the asteroid and is now making its way back to earth.
"That drop in metallic content and bulk density is interesting because it shows that 16 Psyche is more modified than previously thought. Having a lower metallic content than once thought means that the asteroid could have been exposed to collisions with asteroids containing the more common carbonaceous chondrites, which deposited a surface layer that we are observing," said Cantillo in a statement.
Space experts believe that asteroid 16 Psyche is worth $10,000 quadrillion (that's $10,000 followed by 15 more zeroes). However, the new finding could slightly devalue this asteroid.