字幕列表 影片播放 列印英文字幕 Lurking between Mars and Jupiter, lies the large asteroid, Psyche– one of the only asteroids that we know of, that scientists believe may be mostly made of metal, and researchers from NASA and Arizona State University will be sending an orbiter to it for the very first time. We've never explored a terrain like this before, and it could be our only key to understanding what the inside of Earth's core could be like. Visiting asteroids isn't new to space exploration with Vesta, Ceres, Ryugu, and Bennu being some of our most recent mission destinations. And far as asteroids go, they've all pretty much been the same; usually rocky, airless drifting through the cosmos as leftover debris from a chaotic beginning. But Psyche is unique. We're pretty sure that it's largely made of iron-nickel metal. And there are very, very few asteroids out in the asteroid belt that we think are made of metal, or largely of metal. So it's a whole new kind of exploration, one that humankind hasn't done before. So Psyche's iron-nickel properties is what makes it stand out, specifically because those elements are often found within the cores of terrestrial, or rocky planets, like Earth. But Earth's core lies at more than an unreachable three thousand kilometers below the surface, whereas Psyche is just out in the open ready to be studied. Researchers suspect the asteroid is an exposed core of a protoplanet, which is a planet in its early formation stages. It's most likely that Psyche lost its rocky exterior during violent collisions in the beginning of our solar system's evolution... at least, that's what scientists' best assumptions are. But the fact is no one has ever seen Psyche as more than a speck of light, even in the Hubble Space Telescope, it's just two pixels. So we have idea of shape and size and mass, but we do not know what a metal world looks like, and so... ...When we, the robotic spacecraft, go and orbit Psyche, we'll be sending back camera images. We're gonna share them with everyone in the world as soon as we see them so we can all be saying right away, "What is that?" And figuring out what that speck of light really looks like up close. But this does beg the question, if we've never seen a metallic body like this, how exactly will we explore it? Well the team believes they've taken on the challenge with a suite of perfect instruments. So we'll send cameras, of course, because we have to see it, and we'll send magnetometers. If it has a magnetic field recorded, then it was certainly part of the core of a little planetesimal, a little baby planet that never joined in with our big planets. And then we'll bring this amazing instrument called the gamma ray and neutron spectrometer. It's built by a team at Applied Physics Laboratory, and it will be able to tell us the composition of the surface, by measuring radiation coming off of Psyche. Gamma ray and neutron spectroscopy is a commonly used technique for measuring the composition of planetary bodies, and has seen success in analysis of the Moon, Mars, Mercury, and even other asteroids like Vesta, and Ceres. It works a bit like this: There are, um, intergalactic cosmic rays, these very high-energy pieces of radiation, particles that come flying into our solar system and bombard our planets. And on Psyche, when these cosmic rays strike the surface, the atoms that they hit will then give off a gamma ray or a neutron in return and the energy of that is exactly indicative of what kind of atom it was. Technological advancements like this are happening all the time, there's even a new communication demonstration onboard Psyche, called the Deep Space Optical Communication (DSOC). It will test how we can communicate with spacecraft using photons in lasers rather than radio waves. The method, while complex, could send data at least 10 times faster than our current communication strategies. A resource that could help habitability on a place like Mars. So the researchers have a lot on their plate, deep in the trenches of preparation, and building their instruments. Ambitions and anticipations are high for the Psyche team as the 2022 launch date approaches and they're ready to share that excitement with the world. Well, the thing I'm most excited about on the mission itself is just to see something outrageous, to see something that humans haven't seen before, to be able to bring back the image of a new thing in our solar system that will just expand human imagination. I think exploration is something that's just baked into being human, and the ability to to build this spacecraft that's so complicated that no single person can understand how it works, send it out through the solar system, and have it send back information to us here on Earth, I think it is both inspiring and also, um, emboldening for all of us on Earth. We can certainly do more in our own lives if we can also do this thing in space. And that's what I hope for the most for the mission. I want it to engage people here on Earth. Are there are any launches that you'd like to see us cover? Let us know down in the comments, and make sure to subscribe back to Seeker for all your rocket launch news. Thanks for watching.