As 2017 continues to amble into being even weirder than 2016, there’s at least some kind of cool news in the realm of space and science. NASA will be sending a robotic spacecraft to a mineral rich asteroid in 2021. Lucy, the name of the robot dipatched, is being sent to reach and examine a Massachusets-sized asteroid named 16 psyche. This particular space rock is special due to its composition that is almost entirely nickel and iron. Scientists have found the asteroid so massive that it is actually considered a small planet.
The asteroid is located in the dense belt of similar space rocks called the Trojan Asteroid Belt, lying between Jupiter and Saturn. It is going to be a long trip; Lucy will have to spend six years in transit before arriving on the asteroid. Once there, she will map and study the earth’s surface. Maybe one day Lucy’s information could serve to assist in mining these asteroids for the purpose of resource production. The asteroid beat out 14 other asteroid candidates of similar distance and interest, because it might preserve some fossil history about how the universe came about. Harold F. Levison, principal investigator of the Lucy mission, commented on the NASA website about the “unique opportunity.”
Beyond deciphering the mysteries of the universe, there is equal opportunity to become filthy stinking rich. Lindy Elkins-tanton, a planetary scientist at Arizona State University, has estimated the value of the asteroid to be near $10,000 quadrillion.
This could either end the need for money or send us into a fiscal version of the Mad Max universe. Pretty cool either way.