NASA plans to send a spacecraft to a giant metal asteroid that may unveil the secret of how the solar system was formed.

Possibly A Remnant Of An Earlier Planet

The mission to be led by researchers from the Arizona State University will focus on the giant metal asteroid 16 Psyche. The U.S. space agency wants to know if the asteroid could be part of what could be an earlier planet that could be as large as planet Mars.

Scientists said that the asteroid may have lost its outer core after a series of collisions with other objects in space.

Mission To Be Launched In 2023

The mission, which will launch by 2023, will observe the asteroid when it gets near the body in 2030 and report the data back to Earth. Scientists hope that studying the asteroid would give them a better idea of how planets such as the Earth form and how these planetary bodies separate into layers of core, mantle, and crust.

"It appears to be the exposed nickel-iron core of a protoplanet, one of the building blocks of the Sun's planetary system. At 16 Psyche scientists will explore, for the first time ever, a world made not of rock or ice, but of metal," the Arizona State University wrote on its site.

Psyche Principal Investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton of Arizona State University in Tempe said that the mission is the only way humans get to visit a core. She added that visiting outer space would actually allow scientists to learn about inner space.

Unique Asteroid

Besides being one of the largest asteroids that astronomers know of and one of the most massive objects in the asteroid belt, the 200-kilometer-wide 16 Psyche is different from other asteroids with rocky and icy bodies because it is primarily made of metals.

Contains Valuable Metals

The asteroid contains iron, nickel and possibly platinum, cobalt, and gold. The composition of this object is so valuable the asteroid could be worth a lot of money if it gets hauled to our planet with a price tag.

$10,000 Quadrillion-Worth Asteroid

Elkins-Tanton said that the iron found in this body alone could be worth about $10,000 quadrillion, an amount the whole world's economy can't certainly afford since the gross world product in 2015 was only about $73.7 trillion.

Wild Speculation

The idea, of course, is not possible since NASA does not yet have the technology required to accomplish such a feat. Elkins-Tanton also said that even if this is possible, there is still the question as to how the asteroid could be used when it is brought to Earth.

"Even if we could grab a big metal piece and drag it back here ... what would you do? Could you kind of sit on it and hide it and control the global resource – kind of like diamonds are controlled corporately – and protect your market? What if you decided you were going to bring it back and you were just going to solve the metal resource problems of humankind for all time?" Elkins-Tanton said adding that this is a mere wild speculation.

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