You are here:

The NASA Psyche mission: Journey to a Metal Asteroid

NASA Psyche Mission

April 23, 2019 - Lindy Elkins-Tanton
Director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration 

Director - School of Earth and Space Exploration, Arizona State University 
Dr. Lindy Elkins-Tanton - Faculty Page

The NASA Psyche mission:
The science, the team, the spacecraft, and the metal world.

For the first time ever, we are exploring a world made not of rock or ice, but of metal. Deep within the terrestrial planets, including Earth, scientists infer the presence of metallic cores, but these lie unreachably far below the planets’ rocky mantles and crusts. The asteroid Psyche offers a unique window into these building blocks of planet formation and the opportunity to investigate a previously unexplored type of world. 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. Only the 16th asteroid to be discovered, Psyche was found in 1852 by Italian astronomer Annibale de Gasparis, who named it for the goddess of the soul in ancient Greek mythology. What gives asteroid Psyche great scientific interest is that it is made of metal. It appears to be the exposed nickel-iron core of a protoplanet, one of the building blocks of the Sun’s planetary system. At Psyche scientists will explore, for the first time ever, a world made of metal. The mission was chosen by NASA as one of two missions for the agency’s Discovery Program. The Psyche spacecraft is targeted to launch in summer 2022 and arrive at the asteroid 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." 

  • Tickets are not required for this event.
  • Seating is first come, first served. Please arrive early. 
  • April 23, 6:00 p.m. | Aline Wilmot Skaggs Building | Room 220
  • For questions please contact
  • FOS Event Map


  • April 9, 2019 - POSTPONED
    Resource Sharing in Stochastic Networks
    Ruth Williams, PhD, University of California, San Diego

  • May 16, 2019
    Manu Prakash


The College of Science maintains an archive of FRONTIERS OF SCIENCE Lecture videos back to 2012. 

Browse lectures using the top-left menu in the player below. 


The Frontiers of Science lecture series was established in 1967 by University of Utah alumnus and Physics Professor Peter Gibbs. Gibbs and his fellow physics faculty at the U sought to bring notable researchers from around the country to the University to discuss the current “frontiers” in physics research. The larger goal was to present public lectures that would attract attention to important developments in scientific research.

By 1970, the University had hosted 10 Nobel laureates for public Frontiers lectures. By 1993, when Gibbs retired, the Frontiers organizers had hosted another 20 laureates. Today, Frontiers of Science is the longest continuously-running lecture series at the University of Utah. 

Last Updated: 2/27/19