What is the NASA psyche mission?


The space agency has the probe ready. But the platform intended to check the software that will guide the ship was not finished in time and not all the necessary tests have been carried out yet.

Last Friday, NASA announced that the Psyche mission, intended to carry a probe to the asteroid of the same name, had been paused indefinitely. The probe itself is ready. The problem is the software.

The delay is a major drawback given that considering the course of the asteroid the window of opportunity to perform the mission would be lost. The options considered by the space agency are several, including the cancellation of the project or putting it on hold until the next favorable alignment.

A metal heart

Psyche is important because it is an unusual specimen. In the past, it was the heart of a larger object, large enough to form a center with metallic elements. But a series of collisions destroyed the outer layers, and what remains is said metal. A visit to the asteroid would allow us to better understand how these objects are formed, which are also the origin of the planets.


The software

The probe software includes guidance, navigation, and hardware control functions. NASA engineers hoped to be able to perform a validation process. To this end, it was necessary to build a platform that simulated the hardware conditions in the probe. This platform was completed very recently. Mission managers have concluded that the time available is not sufficient to carry out the necessary checks.

The reliability of the software is especially critical in this mission, given that the program must take control of the vehicle just 70 days after its launch.

UPSC Essentials: One word a day- Psyche | UPSC Current Affairs News, The Indian Express

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