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Psyche is the name of an asteroid orbiting the Sun between Mars and Jupiter and the name of a NASA space mission to visit that asteroid, led by Arizona State University. The asteroid was discovered in 1852 by Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis. It was the 16th asteroid to be discovered, so is sometimes referred to as (16) Psyche. As the result of current research, Psyche is made almost entirely of nickel-iron metal, which makes Psyche is the first mission exploring the world made not of rock or ice; but of metal. Moreover, the mission to Psyche may able to tell us how Earth’s core and the cores of the other terrestrial (rocky) planets came to be. Since, we can never go to Earth’s core directly, the Psyche asteroid offers a unique window into the violent history of collisions and accretion that created the terrestrial planets which is the only known place where we can examine directly what is almost certainly a metallic core of an early planet in our solar system.

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