Just to cap off last week’s Moon water news, scientists have now discovered that there’s a giant metallic asteroid hanging around Mars and Jupiter that is worth $10,000,000,000,000,000,000. Yes, that is nineteen zeros, aka $10,000 quadrillion.
A study from The Planetary Science Journal has detailed more information about the 16 Psyche asteroid thanks to new images from the Hubble Space Telescope. In case you were wondering, this asteroid is different to the one that is set to hit us in 2068.
The study has found that 16 Psyche is composed of very dense metal, potentially iron and nickel, which may have formed from the core of a planet that never was. “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 author Dr Tracy Becker said.
16 Psyche is one of the largest objects in orbit around the Mars/Jupiter belt. It’s roughly 225km in diameter, which is nearly the size of Massachusetts, and is currently over 370 million kilometres away from Earth. But I’m sure someone’s getting a rocket ready right now.
Speaking of which, NASA has plans to launch an unmanned spacecraft in 2022 to reach the asteroid and study it further. The spacecraft is expected to reach Psyche by January 2026. Researchers told CBS News back in 2017 that they would not be utilizing the asteroid’s properties for any business gain.
“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 Becker said.
To give you an idea of just how much $10,000 quadrillion is worth, that’s approximately 55.7 billion times more than Amazon owner Jeff Bezos’ entire net worth. It’s also more than the global economy. So, yeah, sign me up for some asteroid shares please.