ESA: Mission Hera will study asteroid diversion from impact with Earth
The European ministers in charge of the ESA space agency approved the Hera mission. This means that the possibility of preventing the collision of large asteroids with Earth will be tested. Thus, the idea will be to change the flight path of these rocks. A probe will be sent to study this binary system of asteroids, Didymos and Didymoon, their small satellite.
The agency showed several simulations comparing the size of these asteroids with some of the most famous monuments of European cities.
The Hera mission will test whether deflection can save humanity from an asteroid harmful. During the $ 320 million mission, ESA and NASA will send a pair of spacecraft to a double asteroid system called Didymos.
NASA will first crash its DART probe into the smaller asteroid (Didymoon) at a speed of about 21,000 km / h. This event will be logged by a cubesat Italian called LICIACube. Later, the Hera mission will arrive to map the impact crater and measure the mass of the asteroid.
This ship Hera will carry two CubeSats that can fly extremely close to the asteroid surface before landing. The suitcase-sized spacecraft will act as drones, capturing vital impact crater data and providing data to scientists, including the mass of the asteroid that will help them deduce its composition.
The goal, according to ESA, is to "transform asteroid deflection into a well-known planetary defense technique."
Because Didymoon orbits its larger companion (as a kind of natural satellite), scientists should be able to measure the effect of DART on its trajectory, even if it is very small. The smaller asteroid is the size of the Colosseum in Rome, so it could destroy an entire city if it collided with Earth.
At just 160 m across, #HeraMission'S target' Didymoon 'asteroid will be the smallest natural body ever targeted by a space mission, but is still quite big in human terms - shown here besides the #Colosseum in #Rome. Ivy will survey it after it has been entertained by NASA’s DART pic.twitter.com/Nv8nv2yZUs
Therefore, we will have to wait until 2022 to watch the DART probe collide with the smaller asteroid to change its orbit. Later, in 2026, it will be Hera's turn to Didymoon, which should improve understanding of this large-scale space experience.
Spaceship Hera will have on board two small cube-shaped satellites
As noted above, the CubeSats are two small, suitcase-shaped satellites that will study the physical characteristics of the asteroid. In this sense, we will have another new datum, because Didymoon will be the smallest natural body ever studied by a space mission. Moreover, this will also be the first object in space whose orbit will be changed by man.