Space4U Podcast: Sarah Noble – NASA Program Scientist, Psyche Mission
Written by: Andrew de Naray
In this episode:
We meet Dr. Sarah Noble, a planetary geologist at NASA headquarters and the Program Scientist for the upcoming 2022 Psyche mission. She was previously the Program Scientist for NASA’s Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft, and the Deputy Program Scientist for Mars 2020. In addition to her involvement with Psyche, she is currently the Program Scientist for the Volatiles Investigating Polar Exploration Rover (VIPER) and the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter (LRO).
Psyche was only the sixteenth asteroid identified when it was discovered in 1852. It is roughly the size of the state of Massachusetts and resides in the solar system’s main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. It’s thought to be the exposed remnant core of a protoplanet — a planet that began to form, but then lost its outer layers due to collisions that occurred billions of years ago. Unlike most asteroids that are rocky or icy bodies, it is believed that Psyche is composed mostly of iron and nickel (similar to the Earth’s core), which is why the Psyche mission spacecraft will be studying an asteroid more than 300 million miles away to learn more about our home planet’s core.
In this episode, Sara explains her role in the Psyche mission, what phase the mission is currently in, why we think we know what the asteroid is composed of, the spacecraft’s instruments and propulsion, how long the mission will take to complete, and much more.
To view the Psyche-inspired artwork Sarah mentions in the episode, visit https://psyche.asu.edu/psyche-inspired-showcase/, and for information on submitting your own artwork, go to https://psyche.asu.edu/get-involved/psyche-space-crafty/.