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A baker’s dozen of ways to get Psyched

1st ASU-led deep-space mission offers a plethora of ways to plug in, from a virtual launch experience to pumpkin-carving stencils to behind-the-scenes videos to a costume contest


A line drawing of the Psyche spacecraft

Illustration by ASU student Samantha Beauchaine

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September 19, 2023

Editor's note: On Sept. 28, NASA announced that the Psyche launch is now targeted for Oct. 12 at 7:16 a.m. Arizona time/10:16 a.m. Eastern.

It has been years in the making, and now we’re just a few weeks from launch: Psyche, the first deep-space NASA mission led by Arizona State University, scheduled to launch the morning of Oct. 5 from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

That launch will begin a nearly six-year, 2.2 billion-mile journey to an unexplored asteroid of the same name. The team has hypothesized that the metal-rich asteroid is core material of a planetesimal, a building block of an early planet. Studying that object far away may give us insight into how Earth and the other terrestrial planets formed.

There are some extremely bright minds behind this mission, including Principal Investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton, a Regents Professor in ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration.

But you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to take part. The mission is bringing Psyche to the public in a variety of ways.

A quick primer

Get up to speed on the mission with this overview video from ASU and NASA.

Ready to learn more? NASA has also put together a “Behind the Spacecraft” video series, where you can meet members of the team and learn more about what it takes to put together a space mission.

In addition, NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory will air a “Behind the Spacecraft” livestream on Sept. 20.

And for those who want even more, JPL’s “Teachable Moment” about Psyche is aimed at educators, but it’s a good overview for everyone.

Watch the launch online

Can’t travel to Kennedy Space Center for the in-person launch? No problem — sign up for the free virtual launch experience via Eventbrite and stay in the know about launch schedule changes. You’ll also receive information about highlighted mission activities and access to curated mission resources.

Keep up to date with upcoming livestreams, including launch, at go.nasa.gov/3sbdiQV.

Don’t forget to set your alarm — launch is scheduled for around 7:15 a.m. Arizona time/10:15 a.m. Eastern on Thursday, Oct. 5. The exact timing is subject to change, so sign up above to be kept in the loop on the latest timing.

Bingo!

Watching with friends or family? Make a game of it! NASA will begin live launch commentary about an hour before launch (registering on the link above will give you access to that as well). Download these NASA-designed bingo cards and mark off words that you hear during the broadcast.

The prize is up to you, though we suggest perhaps the winner gets to choose mission nicknames for the rest of the group — and those names must be used for the duration of the spacecraft’s nearly six-year journey to the asteroid. (Or at least until the following weekend.)

Scroll away

For on-the-scene updates from the launch experience in Florida on Oct. 4 and 5, follow ASU social media with the hashtag #MissionToPsyche on X, https://twitter.com/ASU, and Instagram, https://instagram.com/arizonastateuniversity. ASU News creative wizard Deanna Dent will be there to show us behind-the-scenes action and speak with scientists, engineers and other personnel.

While you’re online, check out the mission social accounts on X, Instagram and Facebook and YouTube.

Spirit week photo contest for K–12

Aspiring astronauts and scientists can get in on the fun with the Psyche Mission Spirit Week Photo Contest the week of launch. With daily prompts like “Asteroid Belt Accessories” and “Cosmic Careers,” participants can show off their stellar creativity with a variety of costumes and think about possible future careers at the same time.

Four winners (either individuals or classes) will get a VIP tour of ASU’s space operations on the Tempe campus. For details, visit PsycheSpiritWeek.asu.edu.

Tune in to PBS

Get ready for launch week with an Arizona PBS special about Psyche at 9 p.m. Arizona time Sunday, Oct. 1. If you miss it, don’t worry — the show will be rebroadcast Wednesday, Oct. 4, at 9 p.m., and Arizona PBS will carry the NASA live launch broadcast the morning of Oct. 5.

Read all about it

It would behoove us to mention ASU News’ own Psyche page, with stories about the mission, student involvement and the people behind the launch. Learn more at news.asu.edu/psyche.

Get crafty — spacecrafty, that is!

All this talk of exploring the great beyond stirring your creative juices? Are you itching to pick up your knitting needles, break out the blender or compose a song? See others’ creations and share your own Psyche-inspired work on the #PsycheSpaceCRAFTY page at psyche.asu.edu/get-involved/psyche-space-crafty.

Add to your personal toolkit

The NASA Psyche Mission Innovation Toolkit includes a series of free online courses based on the real-world challenges and skills associated with the Psyche mission’s science, engineering, technology and teamwork. Courses will be developed throughout the life of the mission. Find the details of current and upcoming courses at psyche.asu.edu/get-involved/innovation-toolkit.

Build your own spacecraft; plus, teacher guides

The Models and Materials page on the Psyche mission website offers teacher guides by grade, plus patterns and instructions for making your own Psyche spacecraft model out of paper, Lego or 3D printing — or even constructing your own asteroid. There are also patterns for Psyche snowflakes and Halloween pumpkin-carving designs to keep the Psyche fun going throughout the fall. Dig into the fun at psyche.asu.edu/get-involved/models-and-materials.

Upcoming space events in Tempe

ASU’s School of Earth and Space Exploration has several events on tap this autumn:

  • The Earth and Space Open House will take place from 6 to 9 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 22, inside the ISTB4 building on the Tempe campus. With a theme of “Asteroid Autumn,” the event will include a public lecture, 3D planetarium shows, interactive science exhibits for all ages, research groups and student clubs and stargazing with telescopes to learn about the night sky. Admission is free; learn more on the ASU Events site.

  • The ASU Homecoming Block Party is a festival-type event on the Tempe campus that is free and open to the public, featuring over 100 tents showcasing university centers, schools and more. Psyche will be part of the School of Earth and Space Exploration booth; while you’re there, make sure to check out the giant Psyche banner on Fulton Center, on the northeast corner of College Avenue and University Drive. The block party will be held Oct. 28; the start time is TBD (depending on the football game time). Learn more at homecoming.asu.edu.

  • Earth and Space Exploration Day is a free annual event that features science-related activities for learners age 5 and up, families, educators and anyone interested in Earth and space. The event includes talks with scientists, interactive exhibits, 3D planetarium shows and student science exhibits. It will be held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Nov. 4, inside and outside ISTB4 in Tempe. Learn more about this and other SESE events at sese.asu.edu/events.

In addition, the School of Earth and Space Exploration will host a Psyche launch viewing party beginning at 7 a.m. on Thursday, Oct. 5, at the Marston Exploration Theater in ISTB4. Seating is limited; reserve a spot via Eventbrite.

For college students

Students at ASU and at universities across the country can get involved with Psyche in a number of ways:

  • Interns: From programming and outreach to social media and graphics, ASU students are working for the Psyche mission in a range of roles.

  • Capstone: Capstone courses are culminating, project-based courses undertaken by university students in the final (senior) year of university. There are Psyche-focused projects for capstone courses across a range of disciplines available for teams at colleges and universities across the country. Learn more at psyche.asu.edu/get-involved/capstone-projects.

  • Psyche Inspired: This program brings undergraduate students from any discipline or major across the U.S. together to share the excitement and innovation of the Psyche mission through creative and artistic works. Learn more at psyche.asu.edu/get-involved/psyche-inspired.

Represent the solar system

NASA’s Solar System Ambassadors program is a public engagement effort that works with volunteers across the nation to communicate the science and excitement of NASA space exploration missions and discoveries. Applications are open annually in September: psyche.asu.edu/get-involved/solar-system-ambassadors.

Learn more about the mission at psyche.asu.edu.

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