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First hi-res radio wavelength images of metal asteroid Psyche

Psyche in thermal

Using the ALMA telescope in Chile astronomers have obtained the highest resolution radio images of the surface of the metal-rich asteroid Psyche yet obtained. The image to the right is from their just published paper. From the article:

These new images reveal that some regions of the asteroid have surface temperatures different from the average, indicating that Psyche’s composition is not uniform. The researchers also found that Psyche has a relatively high thermal inertia compared to other asteroids, yet it radiates approximately 60% less heat than would be expected for an object with such a high inertia. The researchers hypothesize that this is because the asteroid’s surface is at least 30% metal. However, the light reflecting off Psyche’s surface is unpolarized, which would not be the case for an object with a smooth or solid metallic surface. They therefore hypothesize that metallic grains are spread throughout its surface material, causing the light to scatter.

Though Psyche is large, 178 by 144 by 101 miles, it is not spherical like Ceres, the largest asteroid in the asteroid belt at 580 miles diameter. Thus, somewhere from the size of Psyche to the size of Ceres we move from an irregular asteroid body to a spherical planetary body, as it appears most planetary scientists define planets.

The probe Psyche is scheduled to launch in August ’22 to arrive at Psyche in ’26.

Conscious Choice cover

Now available in hardback and paperback as well as ebook!


From the press release: In this ground-breaking new history of early America, historian Robert Zimmerman not only exposes the lie behind The New York Times 1619 Project that falsely claims slavery is central to the history of the United States, he also provides profound lessons about the nature of human societies, lessons important for Americans today as well as for all future settlers on Mars and elsewhere in space.

Conscious Choice: The origins of slavery in America and why it matters today and for our future in outer space, is a riveting page-turning story that documents how slavery slowly became pervasive in the southern British colonies of North America, colonies founded by a people and culture that not only did not allow slavery but in every way were hostile to the practice.  
Conscious Choice does more however. In telling the tragic history of the Virginia colony and the rise of slavery there, Zimmerman lays out the proper path for creating healthy societies in places like the Moon and Mars.


“Zimmerman’s ground-breaking history provides every future generation the basic framework for establishing new societies on other worlds. We would be wise to heed what he says.” —Robert Zubrin, founder of founder of the Mars Society.


All editions available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and all book vendors. The ebook can be purchased direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit, in which case you don't support the big tech companies and I get a bigger cut much sooner. Note that the price for the ebook, $3.99, goes up to $5.99 on September 1, 2022.


Autographed printed copies are also available at discount directly from me (hardback $24.95; paperback $14.95). Just email me at zimmerman @ nasw dot org.

One comment

  • metal asteroid Psyche

    That could be parsed into the name of a ’60’s acid-rock band … or an 80’s turn-it-up-to-11 thrash band … and their latest hit record.

    Either way, that image would make great cover art.

    Opportunity awaits, for the next Ian Faith.

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