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NASA Psyche space mission documentary wins Rocky Mountain Emmy Award

Emmy award

The statuette of the 2018 Rock Mountain Emmy Award for "Psyche: Journey to a Metal World." Photo courtesy of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences

September 23, 2018

At Saturday’s 41st annual Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards, the Arizona State University-led NASA Psyche Mission’s official videography team, True Story Films, was awarded the Rocky Mountain Emmy Award from the Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences for “Best Director – Short Form” for the mission film, “Journey to a Metal World.”

“Space exploration is about inspiring all of humanity, making us bolder, showing us what is possible, and this film illustrates those efforts perfectly,” said Psyche principal investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton.

The award-winning video was commissioned by the Psyche mission team to provide insight to the public about the NASA Psyche mission, which will be launching in 2022 and will journey to a unique metal asteroid between Mars and Jupiter. 

The Psyche Mission was selected for NASA’s Discovery Program in 2017. 

Through team interviews and graphics, the video explores why this mission was selected for NASA’s Discovery Program, how we will get to the asteroid Psyche, what we hope to learn when we get there, and the importance of scientific discovery.

“We’re thrilled that this project was recognized by the Academy,” said Cary Truelick, director and owner of True Story Films. “And it’s great to see more attention being brought to this fascinating deep-space mission and the people making it happen.”

The Rocky Mountain Emmy Awards are presented by the Southwest Chapter of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, which is dedicated to excellence in television by honoring exceptional work.

It represents television professionals from all disciplines of the industry, serving as the common meeting ground for individuals dedicated to advancing the art and science of television. The Southwest Chapter region serves Arizona, New Mexico, Utah and El Centro, California.

The film 'Journey to a Metal World'

The Psyche Mission

Psyche, an asteroid orbiting the sun between Mars and Jupiter, is made almost entirely of nickel-iron metal. As such, it offers a unique look into the violent collisions that created Earth and the terrestrial planets.

The Psyche spacecraft is targeted to launch in August 2022 and travel to the asteroid using solar-electric (low-thrust) propulsion, arriving in 2026, following a Mars flyby and gravity assist in 2023. After arrival, the mission plan calls for 21 months orbiting the asteroid, mapping it and studying its properties.

The scientific goals of the Psyche mission are to understand the building blocks of planet formation and explore firsthand a wholly new and unexplored type of world. The mission team seeks to determine whether Psyche is the core of an early planet, how old it is, whether it formed in similar ways to the Earth's core, and what its surface is like.

The spacecraft's instrument payload will include a magnetometer, a multispectral imager and a gamma ray and neutron spectrometer. The mission will use an X-band radio telecommunications system and will test a sophisticated new laser communications technology, called Deep Space Optical Communications (DSOC) that encodes data in photons.

The Psyche Mission is in NASA's Planetary Science Division’s Discovery Program. The Psyche Mission’s principal investigator, Elkins-Tanton, is the director of the School of Earth and Space Exploration at ASU. In addition to Elkins-Tanton, ASU researchers on the Psyche mission team include Jim Bell (deputy principal investigator and co-investigator), David Williams (co-investigator) and Catherine Bowman (student collaborations lead).

The mission is led by Arizona State University. NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory is responsible for the mission’s overall management, system engineering, integration and test, and mission operations. The spacecraft’s solar-electric propulsion chassis will be built by SSL.

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