Science

European space agency signs deal for asteroid defence mission

European space agency signs deal for asteroid defence mission”

Spacecraft for a mission aimed at saving Earth from an asteroid strike will be built by the European Space Agency (ESA).

Hera, named after the Greek goddess of marriage amd family, is Europe's addition to worldwide asteroid defense systems. The ESA is moving forward with its plans to probe one particular asteroid, and the agency has awarded a Germany-based space company OHB a £118 million contract.

ESA will then launch Hera later down the line in October 2024.

What if an asteroid hit the Earth? Telescopes would also not suffice to view the fast-moving space rock.

NASA advises everyone that the vast Asteroid is not a cause of panic or alarm, for it will safely pass by the Earth at a safe distance.

"Could we deflect the asteroid to prevent the impact?"

DART's kinetic impact into Dimorphos in September 2022 is expected to alter its orbit around Didymos as well as create a substantial crater, ESA said.

Hera, set to be only the size of a desk, should navigate autonomously around the asteroid while it collects data.

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NASA characterizes asteroids as lifeless rocks that orbit planets and the Sun, further supporting the celestial bodies' gravitational and electromagnetic pull. There are plenty of such bodies in our Solar system, from tiny little ones measuring a few meters (there's 40-50 millions of them) up to larger ones, measuring more than 1 km but much more scarce (there's less than 1000 of them).

Asteroids make close passes to Earth many times a year, since there are many thousands of them in our solar system.

From now until the end of the year, only one asteroid - RZ6 - will get closer to Earth than our moon.

The Didymos binary asteroid system is prototypical of the thousands of asteroids that pose a hazardous risk of impact to our planet.

Dimorphos has a diameter of nearly 525 feet - which is about the width of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt.

HERA will be following and will conduct a post-impact assessment to turn it into a potential asteroid deflection technique.

If all goes well, DART is expected to change Dimorphos' orbiting speed by about 0.5mms per second and lengthen its orbit by around 200 seconds, but we won't be able to confirm the success, or failure, of the mission until Hera arrives on scene in late 2026 to conduct a six-month study.



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