Wait until you hear what NASA is planning to do!
You may remember NASA from the movie Hidden Figures, but you may not know that the agency is still around and, um, doing stuff. For instance, as I’ve previously reported, they’ve found, like, a ton of planets such as Kepler-22c and WASP- 9b. And they’ve taken lots of cool photographs that certain Web-based scientists will swear show proof of intelligent life on Mars in the form of World War I infantry helmets.
And last month, NASA announced a future mission to an asteroid known as 16 Psyche.
You’re probably wondering if 16 Psyche is one of those asteroids that astronomers are always telling us will come “dangerously close” to Earth, if, by “dangerously close,” we mean 745,000 miles.* If you’re wondering that, you may also be wondering if this future mission will involve Bruce Willis.
No need to worry, folks. 16 Psyche is not headed toward our planet, so the end of the world is not nigh, at least not because of asteroids.
The reason NASA wants to journey to 16 Psyche, which is about the size of the state of Massachusetts, is because it is potentially much more valuable than the state of Massachusetts. You see, 16 Psyche is thought to be the core of a long-dead planet (possibly one that had an asteroid crash into it), and, according to NASA, may be “comprised mostly of metallic iron and nickel, similar to Earth’s core.”
This is in sharp contrast to many other asteroids, which are just masses of ice and don’t do anybody any good unless you have a really big scotch glass.
NASA thinks “the iron content alone of 16 Psyche could be worth more than $10,000 quadrillion.”
To put that in perspective, that’s a shitload of money. Our president doesn’t even have that much money. In fact, “quadrillionaire” isn’t even a word!
Or, to put it another way, according to AOL News, that amount of money could literally solve the world’s $60 trillion dollar debt. On the other hand, I think AOL might be underestimating things, just as it underestimates the interest I have in being able to pack a suitcase in 10 seconds. If my math is correct, that much money would not only wipe out the world’s debt, it would leave enough left over to give more than a million bucks to every man, woman and child on Earth. And also some 20% off Bed, Bath & Beyond coupons.
A disclaimer, though: my math may not be correct because my head is not used to such large numbers.
In any case, I have a few comments about the finances here:
- How can the world have a $60 trillion dollar debt? Doesn’t the world as a whole have to be debt neutral? I mean, for everybody who owes money, there has to be somebody else sending collection letters, right? Otherwise, who do we owe that $60 trillion to, the First Planetary Bank of Mars?
- Surprisingly, the U.S. Department of the Treasury does not print any currency larger than the $100 bill. If NASA had $10,000 quadrillion in $100 bills and stacked them up, it would reach 6,786,616 miles into space, so someone could climb up there and get a closer look at that helmet thing on Mars.
- How much will it cost NASA to create a spacecraft to fly a seven year mission just to get to 16 Psyche and then get $10,000 quadrillion worth of iron back to Earth? I’m guessing somewhere in the neighborhood of $10,000 quadrillion.
- Could the expense of the project be reduced if NASA launched its mission from the top of its stack of $100 bills? (I do realize that would be a kind of chicken-and-egg thing, but perhaps they could borrow the money from the First Planetary Bank of Mars using 16 Psyche as collateral.)
NASA is going to launch its 16 Psyche mission in October of 2023 and arrive at the asteroid in 2030. Being able to name a specific month over six years from now must have required a lot of precise calculations, which must have been difficult since those black women in Hidden Figures are retired.
But as long as we’re being exact, I’ll be looking forward to collecting exactly $1,328,108 in 13 years. You know, after we pay off that worldwide debt we owe to somebody.
See you soon.
*16 Psyche is also not the asteroid that some crazy people believe is going to crash into Earth this month, although, if it was, it would solve the problem of how to get all that iron back from space.