The European Space Agency (ESA) is doing its part to protect the earth from erroneous asteroids that could threaten life on earth and is awarding an order worth EUR 129.4 million (USD 153 million) to an industrial consortium led by the German space company OHB. The contract includes the “detailed design, manufacture and testing” of a mission, code-named “Hera” after the Greek goddess of marriage and the hearth, supporting NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirect Test mission and providing an avenue for future planetary defense operations in the region will represent space.
ESA’s Hera mission will launch a desk-sized satellite, which will itself contain small CubeSats, to perform an assessment of the impact NASA̵
The CubeSats will investigate the asteroid close-up once deployed from Hera – including a potential inner probe with a radar array, the first of its kind for an asteroid body. In total, Hera and her CubeSate companions will examine the asteroids for six months after their encounter with DART.
NASA’s mission is scheduled to start sometime in July 2021 and arrive at the two asteroids known as the “Didymos” pair in September of the following year. ESA’s Hera mission is scheduled to start in October 2024 and then meet with the asteroids in 2026. So there will be a significant gap between the effects and Hera’s close-up – a time when its effects should hopefully be evident.