While NASA's plans to put humans on Mars have suffered recent setbacks, its unmanned robotic programs are achieving milestones on a daily basis. Earlier this year, NASA announced that it had approved a mission, Psyche, to the asteroid belt. Today, the organization announced a shift in Psyche's launch schedule -- with big ramifications.
Psyche 16 is a metal asteroid that may be the remnant of an early planet core. By studying the asteroid, scientists hope to learn more about Earth and the development of planets in our solar system. The mission was originally slated for liftoff in 2023, with arrival at the asteroid Psyche 6 in 2030. However, NASA directed the team to research whether an earlier mission would be feasible. After studying possible trajectories, they determined that launching one year early—in 2022—would shave four years off the spacecraft's journey. It's now expected to arrive at Psyche 6 in 2026.