HERA Spacecraft Will Follow NASA's Plan To Change an Asteroid's Orbit

ESA and NASA have collaborated to bring a first-time attempt to shift the orbit of an asteroid, a lifesaving plan, I would say myself.
HERA and her CubeSats 10 photos
Dimorphos asteroid size compared to Rome ColosseumHera asteroid mission first stepsJuventas CubeSatMilani CubeSatDouble Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraftDouble Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraftDouble Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraftDouble Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraftDouble Asteroid Redirection Test spacecraft
Later this month, on 26 September 2022, the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the first-ever mission of its kind to see if a man-made impact of a spacecraft with an asteroid will change its course. Leading to a change in the duration of Dimorphos’s orbit around the bigger asteroid.

The main asteroid is called Didymos, which has a diameter of 780 m (2559 ft). It is orbited by a smaller satellite with a 160 m diameter, called Dimorphos, with which the DART system will collide into. Hopefully, if the plan goes correctly, the course of the asteroid will change in a way that will be visible from Earth.

The ESA spacecraft will come after the initial NASA mission to deflect the course of the asteroid. The launch of the HERA space mission is planned for October 2024. Its goal is to collect the details of the aftermath of the impact, hoping to help humanity when and if it will be needed. HERA will reach Didymos in 2026, performing high-resolution visual, laser, and radio science mapping of the asteroid.

“The Hera team is currently in the midst of our Critical Design Review, which is the last mission’s last major review before launch acceptance,” explains Karim Mellab, Hera’s Assembly, Integration, and Test manager.

HERA spacecraft is right now being built at OHB in Bremen, Germany, and at Avio in Colleferro, Italy. The Critical Design Review (CDR) has the purpose of evaluating the readiness of HERA alongside its instruments and interfaces with other mission segments. One of the segments is two miniature “CubeSats” that have already passed the CDR and will be deployed when the spacecraft arrives on the Didymos System. The first is Milani CubeSat which will take spectral measurements of the asteroid dust, and the second is Juventas CubeSat which will perform the first radar probe of an asteroid.

Until the HERA spacecraft, we will watch the DART system mission with great interest.


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