August 13, 2017
The birth of a space mission
This July we were back in our little house up in the hills of Massachusetts, and I saw still sitting next to the phone the giant-size Post-It on which I had written the names of everyone I needed to call that astonishing morning six months earlier, January 4, when NASA Associate Administrator Thomas Zurbuchen called to tell us that the Psyche mission had been selected for flight. My family, our teammates, the university president, VP, and dean, the public relations people…those were some of the most exciting phone calls I have ever made.
The six months that had passed since then seemed like only a moment when I had the shock of seeing that paper again, faded though it was from sun through the window. All the events of the half year rushed through my mind…and I thought, I really need to write about what is happening!
And I thought, I really need to write about what is happening!
So not too late, begins a blog about the journey of the Psyche mission. I am the Principal Investigator of the NASA Psyche mission, which was selected as the 14th in the Discovery program within NASA’s Science Mission Directorate. The Psyche mission is scheduled to launch in August 2022, rendezvous with the asteroid Psyche in January 2026, and orbit it for 21 months.
Psyche is a metal world with diameter about the width of Massachusetts, and surface area greater than the state of Texas. We have explored rocky worlds like Mars and the Moon, and icy worlds like Ceres, and worlds with gas surfaces like Jupiter and Saturn, but we have never explored a metal world.
That’s usually about it for a mission, until it reaches its destination and starts to send back discoveries! But there is so much more to it…the years of preparation and proposal process, and now the years of team-building, design, building, modeling, testing, launching, tracking…I am finding this astonishing journey so fascinating that I want to share it all. We’ll have lots of writers from the mission, not just me. And I hope that this blog will help everyone who wants to feel more connected to the process of exploring space.