NASA mission to asteroid Psyche is April 4 lecture topic

March 25, 2023

The Lewes Public Library’s Science and Society lecture series will welcome renowned planetary scientist Lindy Elkins-Tanton at 5 p.m., Tuesday, April 4, via Zoom for an online discussion of NASA’s upcoming mission to the asteroid Psyche, titled The NASA Psyche Mission: An Electric Journey to a Metal World.

“Deep in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, three times farther from the Sun than the Earth is, orbits a massive asteroid called (16) Psyche. NASA’s upcoming exploration of this metal-rich asteroid marks an important first for humankind: We have sent people or robots to explore rocky bodies like the Moon and Mars, and icy ones like Europa and Enceladus, and gas-rich bodies like Jupiter, but never a body made mostly of metal. If Psyche turns out to be what we think, we’ll be visiting a new kind of world,” said Elkins-Tanton. She will explain how the NASA Psyche mission came to be, who is working on the team, and how the spacecraft makes use of engineering advances.

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Elkins-Tanton is a planetary scientist, the principal investigator of the NASA Psyche mission, and Arizona State University interplanetary initiative vice president. Her research concerns the formation and subsequent evolution of rocky planets – and processes of education for the future of society. Asteroid (8252) Elkins-Tanton is named for her, as is the mineral elkinstantonite. In 2018, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and in 2021 she was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Elkins-Tanton received her bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees from MIT.

The event will be moderated by Fred Dylla, executive director emeritus of the American Institute of Physics and author of “Scientific Journeys;” and Linda Dylla, former public information officer at the Jefferson Laboratory and the U.S. Department of Energy.


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