NASA backs two new missions to asteroids

Lucy and Psyche missions

Artist’s conceptions show the Lucy probe visiting a rocky asteroid at left, and the Psyche probe visiting a metallic asteroid at right. (NASA Illustrations)

Today is a great day for asteroid miners: NASA announced that it will provide full funding under its Discovery Program for two missions focusing on different types of asteroids.

A mission called Lucy will launch in 2021 to study a smorgasbord of asteroids, including one in the main asteroid belt, between Mars and Jupiter, plus six others among the swarms of space rocks caught in Jupiter’s orbit.

Another mission called Psyche will take off in 2023 to visit a type of asteroid that’s never been seen up close before: a huge metallic object called 16 Psyche that’s similar in composition to Earth’s core.

“This is what Discovery Program missions are all about – boldly going to places we’ve never been to enable groundbreaking science,” Thomas Zurbuchen, associate administrator for NASA Headquarters’ Science Mission Directorate, said today in a news release.

Get the full story on GeekWire.

About Alan Boyle

Award-winning science writer, creator of Cosmic Log, author of "The Case for Pluto: How a Little Planet Made a Big Difference," president of the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing. Check out "About Alan Boyle" for more fun facts.
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