The researchers of Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration (SESE) have prepared 3D printed replica of Psyche – an asteroid that almost resembles the size of Massachusetts. It is expected that NASA will send a spaceship to the asteroid in 2023 and SESE was also acknowledged with the essential funds to perform this research.
The 3D printed model of Psyche actually looks like a brain rather than a big asteroid. This asteroid 16 Psyche measures a huge 130 miles in diameter. The asteroid is situated in the outer part of the main asteroid belt, which is almost 280 million miles away from the sun. Even it is also one of the most enormous metallic M-type asteroids there. According to researchers of SESE, this 3D printed model of the asteroid is a better option for receiving grips with the huge rock.
The scientists explain that the Psyche could be the stripped core of a failed planet and if it is true then after getting a closer look at it could actually reveal how planets are made. This is why the Jet Propulsion Laboratory of NASA is sending a spacecraft there in 2023. This mission will take almost seven years to complete, which means five years will be consumed in traveling and another two years in research.
Currently, the images of the surface of Psyche are not available. However, the image of radar is accessible. This made the construction of 3D printed replica of asteroid a bit difficult but the SESE’s scientists are feeling positive that their model could represent an exact picture of the huge asteroid. Elkins-Tanton revealed that the 3D printed model was based on scientific hypotheses with its uneven sized craters and it took many years to complete. Elkins-Tanton designed this 3D printed model with Peter Rubin, who is an artist.
The 3D printed replica of the asteroid was made at a maker space in the Technology Center on the Polytechnic campus of ASU. A Stratasys Objet 350 3D printer was used to print the asteroid. After the 3D print of the Psyche was over, the surface of the print was cleaned using water jets. Ultimately, the 10kg asteroid replica was provided with a three-hour sonic bath to augment its surface finish.