NASA's Psyche spacecraft has launched to explore a massive metal-rich asteroid in the belt between Mars and Jupiter.
The Psyche mission will study asteroid 16 Psyche, one of the most massive objects in the asteroid belt.
16 Psyche appears to be largely composed of iron and nickel unlike most asteroids. Scientists are intrigued.
Psyche will study the asteroid's composition and structure to learn about the violent collisions that created Earth.
Psyche will arrive at the asteroid in 2026 after flying by Mars in 2023. The mission will last 21 months.
Studying 16 Psyche could offer insights into opportunities for someday mining asteroids for precious metals.
By exploring 16 Psyche, scientists hope to better understand how our solar system and planets like Earth formed.