The Team

Planning, building, launching, and operating a spacecraft takes lots of people.

Several members of the Psyche mission team pose on stairs for a group photo.

Mission Management

Lindy Elkins-Tanton

Principal Investigator

Lindy Elkins-Tanton is a planetary scientist with expertise in planet formation and evolution.

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Lindy Elkins-Tanton smiling in a headshot. She has short, light hair and red glasses, and is wearing a white top.
Lindy Elkins-Tanton is the principal investigator for the Psyche mission.
Arizona State University
People wearing purple Psyche mission shirts pose for a photo.
Members of the Psyche Flight Team (Phase C/D) pose for a group photo in Mission Control at NASA's Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL).

Psyche is Collaboration

The Psyche mission is only possible by drawing together resources and know-how from NASA, universities, and industry.

The mission’s leader – Principal Investigator Lindy Elkins-Tanton – is based at Arizona State University (ASU) in Tempe. The partnership with ASU enables collaboration with students nationwide. This offers greater opportunities to train future instrument and mission leads in science and engineering, and to inspire additional student projects involving art, entrepreneurship, and innovation. Over a dozen other universities and research institutions are represented on the mission team.

An illustration of the Psyche spacecraft in space with its solar wings expanded.
This artist's concept, updated as of June 2020, depicts NASA's Psyche spacecraft. The Psyche mission will explore a metal-rich asteroid of the same name that lies in the main asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter.

NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Southern California, a leader in robotic exploration of the solar system, manages the mission for the agency’s Science Mission Directorate in Washington. Managed for NASA by Caltech in Pasadena, JPL is also responsible for system engineering, integration and testing, and mission operations.

NASA’s Launch Services Program at Kennedy Space Center in Florida manages launch operations and procured the SpaceX Falcon Heavy rocket.

Maxar Technologies is a key commercial participant in the mission. Its team in Palo Alto, California, delivered the solar electric propulsion chassis – the main body of the spacecraft – and most of its engineering hardware systems.

Psyche is Discovery Class

Psyche is a NASA Discovery Class mission.

The primary goal of the Discovery Program is to conduct a series of frequent, highly-focused, cost-effective missions to answer critical questions in solar system science. The program concentrates on smaller missions that require fewer resources and shorter development times than NASA's larger "flagship" missions.

Discovery Program class missions like these are relatively low-cost, their development capped at about $450 million. Discovery missions are managed for NASA’s Planetary Science Division by the Planetary Missions Program Office at Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Alabama.

The missions are designed and led by a principal investigator who assembles a team of scientists and engineers, to address key science questions about the solar system.