Hera asteroid mission goes on trial


At some point, statistically speaking, a large asteroid will impact Earth. Whether that’s tomorrow, in ten years, or a problem for our descendants, ESA is getting prepared.

As part of the world’s first test of asteroid deflection, ESA’s Hera mission will perform a detailed post-impact survey of Dimorphos – the 160-metre asteroid struck, and successfully deflected, by NASA’s DART spacecraft.

Hera will soon study the aftermath. Launching in October 2024, Hera will turn this grand-scale experiment into a well-understood and hopefully repeatable planetary defence technique.

But before Hera and its two CubeSats fly, they’re rigorously tested at ESA’s ESTEC test centre in Noordwijk, the Netherlands. From the force and noise of the rocket take-off to the sustained vacuum and temperature extremes of deep space, all aspects of Hera’s functioning are checked before they begin their journey, alone in space.

Credits: ESA – European Space Agency

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