Curiosity Mission Control


Psyche is both 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 mission was chosen by NASA on January 4, 2017 as one of two missions for the agency’s Discovery Program, a series of relatively low-cost missions to solar system targets.

Psyche Mission trajectory and orbit plan


The Psyche spacecraft is targeted to launch in summer 2022 and travel to the asteroid using solar-electric (low-thrust) propulsion, arriving in 2026, following a Mars flyby and gravity-assist in 2023. After arrival, the mission plan calls for 21 months spent at the asteroid, mapping it and studying its properties.

Diagram of the spacecraft's orbit around the asteroid.


Once the spacecraft arrives at the asteroid in 2026, plans call for it to spend 21 months at the asteroid, performing science operations from four staging orbits, which become successively closer.