To get a complete idea of what it consists of and what the core of our planet looks like, is not scientifically possible for now. However, NASA could help figure things out, and (perhaps somewhat surprisingly) within space mission. The target will be the asteroid it is believed to be largely made up of iron and nickel. The reason is the assumption that this metal-rich asteroid, which is called 16 Psychewas once part of the planetary core. This is the first NASA mission to study an asteroid that contains more metal than rock or ice.

The start of the Psyche mission is already planned for this Thursday, October 12. The probe will launch on a rocket Falcon Heavy to SpaceX from the Kennedy Space Center in Florida (this will be the first of several NASA science missions that will carry the primary payload on one of these rockets).

The Psyche probe is about the size of a small van. Once it reaches the asteroid, it will begin sending 16 Psyche images back to Earth. It is equipped with a magnetometer, a gamma and neutron spectrometer and a multispectral imaging unit, which are used to study the asteroid. Approximately it will take pictures, map the asteroid’s surface and collect data for two yearsin order to evaluate the composition of 16 Psyche.

The probe, which is powered by solar electric propulsion, is expected to reach 16 Psyche (located in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter) in July 2029. Had NASA been ready to launch the mission as early as last year, as originally planned, it could have reached 16 Psyche as early as 2026.

NASA also reckons that the 173 km wide asteroid 16 Psyche may not actually be the exposed core of the planet. but that it could be the remains of a completely different kind of iron-rich body.