NASA delays launch of Psyche asteroid mission due to software issue
NASA has updated the launch period for its Psyche asteroid mission, from August 2022 to September 2022, citing an issue preventing confirmation that the software controlling the spacecraft is functioning as planned. The mission team is working to identify and correct the issue and the extension will allow more time for this work, the agency said.
"NASA's Psyche spacecraft is nearing the final stages of preparations for launch, and the mission team is working to confirm that all hardware and software systems are operating correctly," the agency said.
Our #MissionToPsyche is nearing the final stages of preparations for launch. To allow more time to confirm that all hardware and software systems are operating correctly, the start of Psyche's launch period is being updated to no earlier than Sept. 20: https://t.co/pCgInq1NrU pic.twitter.com/kWNPqNjhKI— NASA Solar System (@NASASolarSystem) May 25, 2022
Led by Arizona State University, Psyche is a first-of-its-kind mission to a mysterious, metal-rich asteroid of the same name, which lies in the main belt between Mars and Jupiter and orbits the Sun.
Last month, Psyche completed a gauntlet of electromagnetic, thermal-vacuum, vibration, shock, and acoustic testing at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California. The spacecraft will launch atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket from the Kennedy Space Center, Florida, and will use the gravitational force of Mars to slingshot it toward its target.
NASA's Psyche spacecraft will reach the asteroid in 2026 and spend 21 months collecting science data during progressively lower orbits.
Psyche is particularly interesting to scientists because of how unusual it is, with its metal content, high density, and low concentration of iron oxides. Scientists believe that the 140-mile-wide (226-kilometer-wide) asteroid may consist largely of metal from the core of a planetesimal, a building block of the rocky planets in our solar system.
Insights from this mission could tell us more about the formation of our solar system and our home planet as well, NASA says. Psyche is the 14th mission selected as part of the agency's Discovery Program that gives scientists a chance to dig deep into their imaginations and find new ways to unlock the mysteries of our solar system.