Image: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Arizona State Univ./Space Systems Loral/Peter Rubin
Winnipeg, MB: September 27, 2023 – The Manitoba Museum’s popular live-streamed astronomy program will be hitting the road on October 11 and 12, and will be offering some incredible behind-the-scenes access to NASA’s Psyche Mission Launch from Kennedy Space Centre in Florida.
Planetarium Astronomer and Dome@Home host Scott Young has been invited as a special social media influencer to witness and share the planned launch of NASA’s Psyche spacecraft. Young will also take part in facilities tours of Kennedy Space Centre and have the opportunity to interview various mission scientists and engineers.
“I’m thrilled to be invited to Kennedy Space Center to cover the launch of the Psyche mission. We routinely do live events for NASA missions as part of our award-winning Dome@Home series, but actually being there at the launch site will be amazing. I’m looking forward to having behind-the-scenes access to the people and places at Kennedy Space Center, and bringing all of that back to our viewers in real-time. We’ll also be collecting images and video for future planetarium show productions.” says Young.
The asteroid Psyche is a 170-mile-wide (280 kilometers) asteroid which orbits the Sun in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter. Scientists hypothesize that Psyche is a metal-rich asteroid; it is estimated that the asteroid’s metal content could be worth $10 quintillion dollars (that’s a 10 followed by 18 zeros!). However, NASA’s Psyche mission is not a mining mission. The Psyche probe’s goal will be used to better understand the structure and composition of the asteroid for purely scientific purposes.
The launch, which is planned for 9:16 am Winnipeg time on October 12, will see NASA’s Psyche spacecraft lift off atop a SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket, reaching its final destination by summer 2029.
“For something so small, asteroids are very important in terms of science. They’re basically left-overs from the formation of the solar system, preserved in the deep freeze of outer space, just waiting to share their secrets with us. Psyche specifically is probably the core of a planet that never fully formed, which is why it’s made of mostly metal. It is the only planetary core we can study, because all of the other ones are deep inside planets.” says Young.
Young has been an informal science educator for over thirty years, working in the planetarium and science centre field both at the Manitoba Museum and also at the Alice G. Wallace Planetarium in Fitchburg, Massachusetts. He is also a past-President of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada.
Young also has a claim to fame in the night sky. In 2003, Young had an asteroid officially named after him by the International Astronomical Union: Asteroid 14698 scottyoung is about two and a half times as far from the sun as the earth, and makes one revolution around the sun every 1,375 days.
In January 2021, Young launched Dome@Home, a popular online astronomy program which resulted from the pandemic, but which has continued to run each month due to positive public response. In 2022 Dome@Home was awarded the 2022 CASCADE Best Program Award from the Canadian Association of Science Centres.
“Through his work, which is infused with equal parts knowledge and passion, Scott inspires us all to explore the vast universe that surrounds us and discover the boundless wonders of our world.” says Zoë McQuinn, Director of Learning & Engagement at the Manitoba Museum.
Follow along with Young and Dome@Home on our Facebook page on October 11 and 12 to witness the Psyche spacecraft launch and see some behind-the-scenes action at NASA’s Kennedy Space Centre.
UPDATE 09-29-2023: The date for the launch has changed. Previous versions of this press release noted October 5 as the launch date. NASA has rescheduled for launch on October 12.
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