An asteroid worth thousands of times the value of the global economy could be a ‘pile of rubble’



June 11, 2021 23:45 GMT

“Our data continue to show low-density estimates despite their high mineral content,” commented the author of the new study on asteroid Psyche 16.

The asteroid Psyche 16, whose value exceeds the entire world economy by thousands of times due to the potential value of its resources, can, in fact, be “a pile of rubble”According to a new study, published en la revista Journal of Planetary Science.

Named after the psychic deities of Greco-Roman mythology, this space rock, made up of an alloy of different metals, was Discovered in 1852 by the Capodimonte Observatory in Naples, and it remains a mystery to astronomers. Psyche has a diameter of 225 kilometers, and is one of the Huge objects in the asteroid belt main spins Between Mars and Jupiter. American scientist Lindy Elkins Tanton, one of the principal investigators on NASA’s Psyche mission, Calculation In 2017, only the iron it contains will be valuable 10,000 quadrillion dollars on the earth.

However, the new study led by University of Arizona researcher David Cantello now suggests that the asteroid is made up of 82.5% metal, 7% low-iron pyroxene and 10.5% carbonaceous chondrite that may have appeared there due to the impact of other asteroids. Furthermore, the author and colleagues estimate that Psyche 16’s bulk density, or the amount of empty space inside its body, is about 35%.

These estimates differ from previous analyzes of the composition of the rocks, according to which they can contain up to 95% of the mineral and be more dense. “This decrease in mineral content and bulk density is interesting, because it shows that Psyche 16 It has been modified more than previously thought“, expression Cantelo in a statement.

Thus, the researchers hypothesize that, rather than an intact primordial planet’s core, the asteroid could be more like a “mound of rubble,” like the asteroid Bennu. “A breath as a pile of debris would be very unexpected, but our data still shows estimates تظهر Low density despite high mineral contentThe study writer commented.

According to specialists, Bennu contains a large amount of carbonaceous chondrite and has a porosity of more than 50%, which is a classic characteristic of a rubble pile.

Previous estimates of Psyche 16’s composition were calculated from the analysis of sunlight reflected on its surface. Now, Cantelo and his colleagues have recreated the asteroid’s regolith, a layer of unconsolidated material on its surface, mixed different materials in the lab, and analyzed the light patterns to match the asteroid’s telescope observations.

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