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Published on March 25th, 2017 | by Geetika Bhasin

Researchers at SESE 3D print the model of Psyche for sending spacecraft to the asteroid by 2023

The researchers from the Arizona State University’s School of Earth and Space Exploration(SESE) have created a 3D printed model of an asteroid named Psyche. NASA plans to send a spacecraft to Psyche by 2013 and the SESE has received requisite funding to carry out research in the field.

This asteroid which resembles the brain is 130 miles in diameter and is located 280 miles from the sun, at the outer asteroid belt. Some experts believe that this massive rock is a planet in making that failed. If this theory holds true, scientists could get a better idea of how planets are composed, by studying this asteroid. This is the reason why NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is sending the spacecraft to Psyche in 2023. It will take two years of research and five travel years.

Lindy Elkins-Tanton, the principal investigator of the Psyche mission and director of SESE, said that it was the first time that scientists would get to explore the core of a planet, which would provide them with an insight to the metal interior of all rocky planets in the universe. Presently the researchers carry out exploration based only on the radar returns of the asteroid, images of the Psyche are not available yet. As per Elkins, the 3D printed model of the asteroid is fairly accurate and is created using scientific hypothesis. Elkins designed the model with artist Peter Rubin’s help.

The psyche was devised at the Technology Center on ASU’s Polytechnic campus. It took a continuous run of 86 hours and 43 minutes for Stratasys Objet 350, the most accurate 3D printer on site, to 3D print the asteroid model. Eddie Fernandez, the engineering associate said that the model was as big as a football and as heavy as the baseball.

Fernandez, who was overseeing the print job, removed support material at a cleaning station. Water jets were also used to clean the surface and then given a three-hour sonic bath to polish the surface finish. The final results have been impressive.

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