Lindy Elkins-Tanton, recipient of the 2020 Arthur L. Day Prize and Lectureship, presented the 2023 Day Lecture at The University of New Mexico on February 24 and South Carolina State University on April 13. The recording from the first lecture is below. 

“Psyche” is both the name of an asteroid in the main belt, orbiting out past Mars, and the name of a NASA mission to visit that asteroid. The upcoming exploration of this asteroid marks an important first for humankind: We have sent people or robots to explore rocky bodies, like the Moon and Mars, and icy ones, like Europa and Enceladus, and gas-rich bodies like Jupiter, but never a body made mostly of metal. Psyche’s density, radar, and reflected light properties indicate that it is largely made of metal. If Psyche turns out to be what we think, we’ll be visiting a new kind of world.

In this talk Dr. Elkins-Tanton explained how the NASA mission came to be, who is working on her team, and how far they've come in building this spacecraft and preparing to launch in 2023. Dr. Elkins-Tanton promises that Psyche will surprise us, the universe always outsteps even the best imaginations. And the whole Psyche team looks forward to sharing all they discover with everyone here on Earth.

Dr. Lindy Elkins-Tanton is the lead of the NASA Psyche mission, Arizona State University Vice President of the Interplanetary Initiative, and co-founder of Beagle Learning, a tech company training and measuring collaborative problem-solving and critical thinking. Her research concerns terrestrial planetary evolution. Elkins-Tanton received her academic degrees from MIT. She worked at Brown University, MIT, and the Carnegie Institution for Science before moving to Arizona State University. Asteroid (8252) Elkins-Tanton is named for her. She is a member of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and in 2022 William Morrow published her memoir, A Portrait of the Scientist as a Young Woman.

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