Hera Mission of ESA
What is the News?
- Planning for humankind’s first mission to a binary asteroid system has entered its next engineering phase.
- ESA’s proposed Hera mission would also be Europe’s contribution to an ambitious planetary defence experiment.
- The moon orbiting Didymos, called ‘Didymoon’-almost the size of the Giza Pyramid in Egypt, measuring just 160 meters in diameter will be the smallest asteroid ever explored.
About Hera Mission
- It is the first spacecraft to explore a binary asteroid.
- The mission will launch to asteroid 65803 Didymos, a binary pair made up of one large body and a smaller object that orbits around it, in 2023. Aptly nicknamed Didymoon.
- However, Hera mission won’t be the first to reach Didymos.
- The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) in USA plans to launch the Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) between 2020 and 2021, which will target Didymoon as part of its planetary defence programme.
Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART)
- It is a planetary defense-driven test of one of the technologies for preventing the Earth impact of a hazardous asteroid: the kinetic impactor.
- DART’s primary objective is to demonstrate a kinetic impact on a small asteroid.
- It will be the first demonstration of the kinetic impact technique to change the motion of an asteroid in space
- DART will test its ability to deflect asteroids by crashing into Didymoon and altering its orbit around Didymos.
- NASA selected Didymoon because of its close proximity to Earth and its surprisingly dangerous size.