Humans just got one more reason to journey to outer space. There’s a rare asteroid the size of Massachusetts orbiting between Mars and Jupiter, and it’s worth an estimated $10,000 quadrillion.
The rarity, known as 16 Psyche, was actually discovered back in 1852, but NASA’s Hubble Telescope has finally given earth-dwellers a closer look. The new study, which was published this week in The Planetary Science Journal, indicates that asteroid’s composition is key to its astronomical value.
To put this touted figure into perspective, when written out in full it boasts a line of zeros that could nearly stretch to the asteroid itself. That’s $10,000,000,000,000,000,000. This makes Psyche 70,000 times more valuable than the global economy, worth about $142 trillion in 2019, or enough to buy and sell Jeff Bezos, whose net worth is just shy of $200 billion, about 50 million times. That’s all thanks to some heavy metal.
Psyche, which spans 140 miles in diameter, appears to made entirely of iron and nickel. This metallic construction sets it apart from other asteroids that are usually comprised of rock or ice.
Artist’s concept of the asteroid and the Psyche spacecraft.
“We’ve seen meteorites that are mostly metal, but Psyche could be unique in that it might be an asteroid that is totally made of iron and nickel,” said Dr. Tracy Becker, a planetary scientist and author of the new paper, said in a statement.
So, how did the pricey asteroid come to be? According to Becker, it’s possible that Psyche is the leftover core of a planet that never properly formed because it was hit by objects in our solar system and effectively lost its mantle and crust.
The asteroid is currently about 230 million miles from Earth in the Solar System’s main asteroid belt, orbiting between Mars and Jupiter. And, unsurprisingly, NASA is planning to visit it again. In 2022, the administration plans to launch a Psyche spacecraft to further study the asteroid.
If they could just kindly bring the asteroid back, every person on the planet—all 7.5 billion of us—would get roughly $1.3 billion.