On Oct. 12, 2023, NASA’s Psyche mission and spacecraft will launch out into the asteroid belt to research asteroid 16 Psyche. Psyche, the asteroid, is thought to be metal-rich and is one of the largest asteroids within the asteroid belt. However, the true nature of the asteroid is largely unknown, and new research from NASA’s now-retired Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy (SOFIA) telescope and NASA’s Ames Research Center is helping scientists predict what to expect at Psyche when the spacecraft arrives.
Throughout the last few years, especially as Psyche teams began planning the mission and its goals, scientists have hypothesized the asteroid’s characteristics. One of the leading theories behind the asteroid’s origins is that Psyche was once the iron-rich interior of a planetesimal or a forming planet.