NASA to Discuss Psyche Asteroid Mission, Optical Communications Demo

NASA will host a news conference at 1 p.m. EDT Wednesday, Sept. 6, to discuss the agency’s upcoming Psyche mission, which will be its first to visit a metal-rich asteroid. Riding along with Psyche is a laser transceiver for NASA’s Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) technology demonstration.

The media briefing will air live on NASA Television, the NASA app, Facebook, X, YouTube, and on the agency’s website. The agency will share any changes to this streaming information based on the timing of NASA’s Crew-6 mission departure from the International Space Station.

Laurie Leshin, director of NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Southern California, will provide opening remarks. Briefing participants are expected to include:

  • Lori Glaze, director, Planetary Sciences Division, NASA Headquarters in Washington
  • Lindy Elkins-Tanton, principal investigator of Psyche, Arizona State University
  • Henry Stone, project manager, Psyche, JPL
  • Abi Biswas, project technologist for DSOC, JPL
  • Serkan Bastug, mission manager, Launch Services Program, NASA Kennedy

Questions can be asked on social media during the briefing using #AskNASA.

Psyche is scheduled to launch at 10:38 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5, atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Additional launch opportunities are available through Wednesday, Oct. 25. Information about the times each day the spacecraft can launch is online.

Managed by JPL, the mission will embark on a journey of about 2.2 billion miles (3.6 billion kilometers) to the asteroid Psyche, which may be the partial core of a planetesimal (one of the building blocks of a rocky planet) or could be primordial material that never melted.

Once the spacecraft reaches its target in 2029, it will spend approximately 26 months orbiting Psyche, gathering images and other data. The mission will help answer fundamental questions about Earth’s own metal core and the formation of our solar system.

DSOC, the agency’s first test of high-bandwidth optical communications beyond the Moon, will ride along with Psyche. The project aims to show how lasers could increase data transmission rates far beyond the capacity of current radio frequency systems used on spacecraft today.

For more information about NASA’s Psyche mission, visit:

http://www.nasa.gov/psyche

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