Psyche mission was recognized as ready to launch

Specialists of the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) reported the successful completion of dynamic tests of the Psyche probe, which certified its ability to successfully withstand the loads that will occur during launch. In the near future, the device will be delivered to Cape Canaveral. There it will be prepared for the launch scheduled for August. 

Successful Psyche Tests

After the assembly was completed, NASA subjected Psyche to a series of various tests designed to certify its readiness for flight. In December last year, the probe passed a series of electromagnetic tests that demonstrated that its devices do not create mutual interference. It was followed by an 18-day test in a vacuum chamber, which confirmed the ability of the device to withstand the conditions of flight in interplanetary space.

Psyche probe is in the test chamber. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

And finally, Psyche passed the dynamic tests. In their course, engineers subjected the device to vibrations similar to those to which it will be subjected during launch on a Falcon Heavy launch vehicle. Psyche successfully coped with this task, demonstrating readiness for launch.

Mission objectives of Psyche

Psyche will be launched in August 2022. In May 2023, the spacecraft will carry out a gravitational maneuver in the vicinity of Mars, which will allow it to enter a permanent orbit around the target of its mission on January 31, 2026 — the asteroid Psyche (16 Psyche), characterized by a high content of metals (iron and nickel). According to one theory, it may be a fragment of the nucleus of a dead protoplanet. 

Psyche probe. Source: NASA/JPL-Caltech

For the fulfillment of its scientific tasks, the device received a set of four instruments, including a multispectral camera, neutron and gamma spectrometers, as well as a magnetometer. Additionally, during the flight, the probe will test experimental laser communication technology. 

Together with Psyche, a “companion” will go into space — a pair of Janus probes designed to study the binary asteroids (175706) 1996 FG3 and (35107) 1991 VH. 

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