2020-07-16

Humans can’t dig through the earth’s crust, how to study the core of the earth? Scientists, there is a planetary nucleus 300 million kilometers away

By yqqlm yqqlm

The radius of the earth is 6378 kilometers, and the distance from the core to the surface is about 3000 kilometers. However, until today, we can only dig up to 12 kilometers from the surface, without even drilling through the earth’s crust. It seems that we are far away from exploring the inner core of the earth. However, in the asteroid belt, which is 370 million kilometers away from us, there is a bare planetary core floating in space…

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(picture Description:Spiritual Star hypothetical drawing)

In 1852, Italian astronomer Anibale De Gasparis discovered the spirit star for the first time, and named it after the Puxie (the incarnation of the soul) in Greek mythology, so it was translated as the spirit star. Since it is the sixteenth asteroid discovered by humans, it is numbered 16, so it is called 16 Psyche.

Spirit star is shaped like a cut potato, with a size of 279 × 232 × 189 km, which is a very large celestial body in the asteroid belt. Its mass occupies 0.6%of the entire asteroid belt, enough to interfere with other small celestial bodies nearby, which is also our means of measuring its mass.

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(picture Note:The image of the spirit star taken by the very large telescope array)

It is not its size and shape, but its life experience that really interest scientists. Various signs indicate that it used to be a large celestial body, but after a devastating impact, it was eventually exploded into fragments. And now the spirit star is just the core left by the celestial body.

Scientists say this because it consists almost exclusively of iron and nickel. As for the legend of the Internet that there are trillions of dollars worth of gold on the Spirit Star, I have not found relevant data and introductions by scientists.

Even so, Spirit Star is still a very special celestial body. Whether it is Earth or other rocky planets, the main structure is still rocks such as calcium carbonate. Although the surface is doped with some metals, most of the metals are concentrated in the inner core. The spirit star is different, it is full of metal elements from the surface. Therefore, scientists boldly speculated that it may have been the inner core of an asteroid with a diameter of 500 kilometers, and the result was shattered in a collision and exposed in space.

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This is undoubtedly good news for scientists, It allows us to directly understand what secrets the planet’s inner core has. In order to explore the most bizarre asteroid in the solar system, NASA decided to launch a special probe to go to the spirit star 300 million kilometers away to trace its past.

According to reports, this project was proposed as early as 2015, and was selected in 2017. Recently, NASA has ended the planning phase and started to build the fourth human probe to explore asteroids, and it is also named after Psyche.

Lindy Elkins-Tanton, general manager and co-chair of Arizona State University’s Interplanetary Project, is the head of the Psyche project. She told us:“This is one of the most intense phases of a mission in the entire cycle. We successfully passed the review, but the challenge did not end, and we did not reach the end, but began to strive forward.”

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(picture description:the solar electric propulsion system that Psyche will be equipped with)

Although this is already For the fourth time, mankind is preparing for a special exploration of asteroids, but Spiritual Star is the first all-metal asteroid to be explored by humans. Therefore, scientists attach great importance to this, hoping to answer as many questions as possible brought us by Ling Shenxing, which puts higher requirements on the equipment carried by Psyche.

NASA scientists said:”In order to ensure that all equipment of the spacecraft can work in coordination to ensure our scientific observations, data collection and transmission to the ground, this asteroid plan has 7-8 The level of detail has been analyzed in depth, and its complexity is quite amazing.”

According to the introduction, Psyche will carry a lot of advanced equipment for the spirit star–

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  • Avionics subsystem:including a flight computer to coordinate all equipment;
  • Magnetometer:used to measure the magnetic field of the spirit star, to prove that the magnetic field of the planet comes from the core;
  • multi-spectral imager:observe and photograph the surface of the spirit star, Determine its chemical composition and surface topography;
  • Spectrometer:carry a total of two to analyze the neutron and gamma rays on the surface of Neptune, which helps scientists understand its overall structure;
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  • Others:There are many devices, NASA did not introduce it in depth, they will help scientists reveal the secrets of the spirit star.
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(Picture description:Psyche explores the imaginary picture of the screen of psyche)

Affected by the new coronary pneumonia epidemic, only part of the project is working on site, and the rest can work at home without having to visit the site. According to the plan, around April 2021, all of Psyche’s instruments will be built and shipped to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California. In JPL’s clean room, Psyche will enter the next process:assembly, testing and launch operations (collectively, ATLO).

Henry Stone, a member of JPL and Psyche’s project manager, said excitedly:“I’ve started goose bumps, really. When we came to that stage (assembly), we completed an important Process, after all, you have done enough testing on the prototype, almost equal to already have a working spacecraft.”

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(Picture description:Hall thrusters that Psyche may use are being tested, the blue light is produced by xenon propellant )

Like Mars, there will also be a window period for the exploration of Neptune. According to calculations by scientists, the next window period is the second half of 2022 and the first half of 2023. NASA originally planned to launch Psyche through SpaceX’s Falcon heavy rocket in 2023, but the person in charge seemed to be more anxious and advanced the planning time to August 2022. This means that almost two years are left for NASA. Therefore, the team is also working hard to complete all construction and testing tasks before the window period.

The reason why NASA advances the time is because they hope that Psyche can pass by Mars in May 2023 and accelerate with the help of Mars’ gravitational slingshot effect. Even so, Psyche’s flight to Spirit Star will be in 2026.

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(picture description :Propaganda picture of the proposed Psyche plan)

If Neptune is indeed proved to be the core of an asteroid, it will be of great significance to us, because it is likely to be the core of the earth. Looks like. We know that the main components of the earth’s core are also iron and nickel, but the core is in a molten state, and the spirit star has cooled and solidified. Even so, we can still learn about the core of the earth that we cannot directly see through the spirit star.

At present, humans can only detect up to 12 kilometers below the surface, but they can’t even penetrate the crust. Therefore, the emergence of the Spirit Star is definitely good news for us. Perhaps, the secrets hidden under the crust and mantle will be unlocked on the spirit star.

(The circle card has been added here, please check it out in today’s headline client)