Psyche mission continues preparations for launch

NASA has published an image showing the preparation of the Psyche spacecraft. It is planned to launch in the autumn of 2023.

The Psyche spacecraft is in a clean room. Source: Autotech/NASA

The target of the Psyche mission is Psyche, a 280—kilometer asteroid with a high metal content. Many scientists suspect that it is a fragment of the core of a protoplanet that collapsed at the dawn of the existence of the Solar System. Psyche will have to test this assumption.

Initially, the launch of Psyche was scheduled for October last year with the expectation of arriving at Psyche in 2026. However, due to the unavailability of the ground simulator of the device, NASA had to postpone its launch date by a year. According to the new flight plan, Psyche will go into space in October 2023 and reach its goal in 2029.

The image published by NASA demonstrates Psyche, located in the clean room of the Astrotech facility. The spacecraft is connected by cables to ground equipment in order to test its systems. Its scientific stuffing consists of four instruments — multispectral cameras, Gamma Ray and neutron spectrometers (GRNS) and magnetometers. The elements of the last two instruments are visible in the image as the tips of two black protrusions at the far end of the spacecraft.

You can also pay attention to the silver cylinder mounted on the body of the device with a gold sunscreen. This is an experimental DSOC (Deep Space Optical Communications) laser communication system. It should provide the mission with a much faster data transfer rate than traditional radio communication, which will be supported by a high-gain antenna installed on the Psyche.

Earlier we talked about NASA’s decision to temporarily stop trying to uncover the solar array of the Lucy probe.

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