Test Your Metal

Star Trek, the original series and beyond, helped us to envision worlds beyond our own, opening our imaginations to the possibilities that could exist in such a vast galaxy. Worlds but ‘natural’ and ‘man-made’ existed, offering a plethora of life to be discovered and adventures to be had. While none of the events in the series have ever come to past, that doesn’t mean that scientists aren’t embarking on their own exciting ventures into outer space.

One such adventure could occur as early as 2015. Scientists had been putting together a proposal for NASA’s Discovery Competition – and the winner actually gets to put their plan into action. Their propsal? Study an asteroid that is a member of the Kuiper belt – the line of asteroids that separate the first four planets from the last four. But asteroids exist in an abundance, right?

True, but this is no ordinary asteroid, but one made of metal and thought to be the core of a protoplanet. The hope is that by studying this great, grey, lump of rock that scientists can learn more about the formation of planets.

Unfortunately, the Psyche mission was not chosen as one of the final contestants, but if nothing else, the discovery of this core does lend itself to the imagination. And who knows, maybe a study of Psyche will come to pass some time in the future.