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Nasa launches mission to explore asteroid that could make everyone on Earth billionaires

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The US space agency confirmed last year that it was planning to explore asteroid 16 Psyche – comprised of metals similar to those in the core of Earth, such as iron, nickel and gold.

Image courtesy of Nasa shows an artist’s concept of a broken-up asteroid. Picture: Reuters

NASA has launched a mission to explore an asteroid that could make every human on Earth a billionaire.

The US space agency confirmed last year that it was planning to explore asteroid 16 Psyche – comprised of metals similar to those in the core of Earth, such as iron, nickel and gold.

Between 30 and 60 percent of 16 Psyche’s overall volume is thought to be made up of metal and has an estimated worth of £8,000-quadrillion.

This dwarfs the current global economy of approximately $74-trillion.

Nasa’s mission successfully launched last week and is aiming to survey the 140-mile-wide (about 225km) asteroid that orbits the Sun – in between the orbits of Mars and Jupiter.

According to The Conversation’s Hrvoje Tkalčić, the mission will take a six-year, 3.6 billion kilometre journey to gather clues that Earth scientists will interrogate for information about the inaccessible interior of our own world.

M-type asteroids like 16 Psyche are thought to be the remnants of planets destroyed in the early years of the Solar System, said Tkalčić.

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The space agency does not plan to try and harvest the precious metals as Nasa simply wants to learn more about planetary cores and how planets form.

They said: “Because we cannot see or measure Earth’s core directly, Psyche offers a unique window into the violent history of collisions and accretion that created terrestrial planets.”

However, Nasa’s spacecraft isn’t expected to arrive at 16 Psyche until 2029.

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