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  • ZACH SELLINGER

The Most Metallic Object in the Milky Way

​It’s located within the Asteroid Belt: a ring of rocks serving as a boundary between Mars and Jupiter. It’s a destination for a future NASA spacecraft with the same name. And most recently, it’s an object that scientists have discovered a potential theory about. Psyche.

​What makes Psyche so special today? A few days ago, it was theorized that the asteroid Psyche is made completely of metal. But how could that be? A rock made out of metal? In all my years of learning about space, I’ve never even heard of a potential piece of metal floating alongside millions of ordinary asteroids. To me, it’s like this one science project in high school, which involved each student writing about a famous scientist. Guess what most everyone chose? Galileo out of all people. What did I choose? Johannes Kepler. The comparison between the two situations is a one-of-a-kind individual with completely different characteristics.

​Now back to the primary topic. You know how a rare object such as a special painting can be worth a lot of money? Well, if the theory about Psyche being 100% metal is true, then the price of that asteroid could be worth $10,000 quadrillion. But hold on a minute! $10,000 quadrillion?! I’ve never heard of that kind of number before! Who in the Milky Way would think of such a thing? That’s way more than enough to make Elon Musk the wealthiest person in the world! After all, his wealth is around $92 billion, making him the fifth wealthiest ever.

​Speaking of Elon Musk, in a couple years, SpaceX’s Falcon Heavy rocket will launch a spacecraft made by NASA with the same name as the asteroid Psyche. Once at its destination, Psyche will explore the origin of planetary cores. We’ve had a number of past missions that studied the cores of planets such as InSight (Mars), Galileo (Jupiter), Cassini-Huygens (Saturn), and MESSENGER (Mercury). But what exactly will Psyche discover within this metal-rich asteroid? Will it confirm the now-conceptualized theory? Or will it find another material other than metal? We’ll find out very soon.


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