Distinguishing the Origin of Asteroid (16) Psyche

Linda T. Elkins-Tanton, Erik Asphaug, James F. Bell, Carver J. Bierson, Bruce G. Bills, William F. Bottke, Samuel W. Courville, Steven D. Dibb, Insoo Jun, David J. Lawrence, Simone Marchi, Timothy J. McCoy, Jose M.G. Merayo, Rona Oran, Joseph G. O’Rourke, Ryan S. Park, Patrick N. Peplowski, Thomas H. Prettyman, Carol A. Raymond, Benjamin P. WeissMark A. Wieczorek, Maria T. Zuber

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


The asteroid (16) Psyche may be the metal-rich remnant of a differentiated planetesimal, or it may be a highly reduced, metal-rich asteroidal material that never differentiated. The NASA Psyche mission aims to determine Psyche’s provenance. Here we describe the possible solar system regions of origin for Psyche, prior to its likely implantation into the asteroid belt, the physical and chemical processes that can enrich metal in an asteroid, and possible meteoritic analogs. The spacecraft payload is designed to be able to discriminate among possible formation theories. The project will determine Psyche’s origin and formation by measuring any strong remanent magnetic fields, which would imply it was the core of a differentiated body; the scale of metal to silicate mixing will be determined by both the neutron spectrometers and the filtered images; the degree of disruption between metal and rock may be determined by the correlation of gravity with composition; some mineralogy (e.g., modeled silicate/metal ratio, and inferred existence of low-calcium pyroxene or olivine, for example) will be detected using filtered images; and the nickel content of Psyche’s metal phase will be measured using the GRNS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number17
JournalSpace Science Reviews
Issue number3
StatePublished - Apr 2022


  • Asteroid
  • Meteorite
  • Planetesimal
  • Psyche
  • Space exploration

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Astronomy and Astrophysics
  • Space and Planetary Science


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