Dre Lindy Elkins-Tanton - The Science of the metal asteroid Psyche

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Dr. Lindy Elkins-Tanton, Principal Investigator, NASA Psyche Mission Director, School of Earth & Space Exploration, ASU

Vendredi 1er février 2019 à 15h30 - Friday, February 1st, 2019 at 3:30 pm

Redpath Auditorium, 859 rue Sherbrooke Ouest, Université McGill

Résumé / Abstract:

Psyche is a metal world with dimensions 279 x 232 x 189 km; its surface area is quite a bit larger than the area of the state of California. Humankind has explored rocky worlds, and icy worlds, and worlds with gas surfaces, but we have never before explored a metal world. In 2022 we launch the Psyche mission to learn about this asteroid.

Ground data has given us masses, volumes (and thus densities), some relatively flat spectra, thermal inertia, radar and visible albedo, and some indications of heterogeneity across its surface. Meteorites form a library of possible analogues, though they probably do not scale to a whole body.

Combining data, we think that Psyche is the core of a small early-formed planet that was stripped of its rocky exterior by multiple hit-and-run impacts with other small bodies in the very earliest time in our solar system. Computer models of planetary formation indicate that this is rare.

In this talk I will discuss the hypotheses for Psyche’s origin, how it fits into the context of planetary formation, and how we are planning a mission to measure a largely unknown body.

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The Science of the metal asteroid Psyche