Archive for November 14, 2022

11/14/2022 – Ephemeris – Psyche spacecraft to launch to its namesake asteroid next October after a 14-month delay

November 14, 2022 Comments off


This is Ephemeris for Monday, November 14th. Today the Sun will be up for 9 hours and 37 minutes, setting at 5:15, and it will rise tomorrow at 7:39. The Moon, 2 days before last quarter, will rise at 10:07 this evening.

The launch of the Psyche spacecraft to the asteroid of the same name this past August was canceled due to problems with the spacecraft itself, not the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket. NASA thinks they have a handle on the problem and are now wanting to launch in October of next year. If they launched this year, they could have gotten a gravity assist by passing close to Mars on their way to the asteroid belt, where the asteroid Psyche resides. Next year’s launch will not have a Mars flyby and take 2 more years to reach Psyche, a total of 6 years, arriving in 2029. The long flight time is because of the attempt to orbit Psyche rather than just flying by the asteroid. To handle such a maneuver, the spacecraft will also use ion thrusters like the Dawn spacecraft did last decade, which orbited both the asteroids Vesta and Ceres.   Psyche is a special metal rich asteroid that may have been the core of a protoplanet.

The astronomical event times given are for the Traverse City/Interlochen area of Michigan (EST, UT – 5 hours). They may be different for your location.


Psyche spacecraft at the asteroid Psyche

An artist’s rendition of the Psyche spacecraft at the asteroid Psyche. Credit: NASA.