ESA’s Hera spacecraft will observe the aftermath of the collission of the DART mission spacecraft with the asteroid Dimorphos.
NASA’s $240 million DART Mission spacecraft is all set to collide with its target asteroid Dimorphos on September 26. The mission was launched in November last year with the aim to smash a spacecraft into the asteroid Dimorphos and to deflect it away from its path. Although this asteroid is non-threatening for Earth, the NASA asteroid mission aims to carry out an experiment to gain greater knowledge as to what will happen if a craft is crashed against a space rock.
In yet another amazing revelation, the European Space Agency (ESA) has a follow-up mission to NASA’s DART Mission in the works. The space agency will launch its Hera spacecraft which will travel to the same asteroid to observe the aftermath of the impact. According to ESA’s blog, the Hera spacecraft will fly to the asteroid to survey the aftermath of impact and gather information such as the size of impact crater, the mass of the asteroid and its make-up and internal structure. Hera is a planetary defense mission under development in the Space Safety and Security Program of the European Space Agency.
Karim Mellab, Hera’s Assembly, Integration and Test manager explained in the blog, 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.”
“At the same time, we are working at such a compressed schedule – with the launch planned for October 2024 – that we are already advancing in construction and integration. The flight model of the Hera spacecraft is fast taking shape at OHB in Bremen, Germany, and at Avio in Colleferro, Italy. Meanwhile functional testing of mission systems is ongoing on OHB’s Avionics Test Bench at Bremen,” he further added.
The spectral measurements of the asteroid will be conducted by the MilaniSAT aboard the Hera spacecraft. The CubeSAT satellite aboard the spacecraft will conduct a radar probe of the asteroid after the collision between the DART spacecraft and the Dimorphos asteroid. According to the ESA blog, both of these satellites have already passed their Critical Design Review along with the TIRI thermal infrared instrument.