The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Hera spacecraft is now being assembled ahead of its flight to analyze the asteroid that was smashed by NASA’s DART mission.
NASA Double asteroid reorientation test (Arrow) affected Dimorphos, the smaller companion of the asteroid Didymos, will explode in September 2022, creating debris and, most importantly, changing the orbit of the space rock.
The European Space Agency is now preparing its contribution to the international DART planetary defense experiment. Hera, which will follow in the aftermath. The two Hera spacecraft modules were recently mated at technology company OHB’s facilities in Bremen, Germany, in a three-hour process.
Related: The epic DART asteroid crash: What NASA has learned
“Before we had these two modules, now you can say the spacecraft has been born,” Hera system engineer Paolo Martino said at a news conference. statement.
“Next, we will add some payload modules to the upper deck of the spacecraft, which we receive directly from the manufacturers once HERA goes to its next stop,” Martino said.
Hera will be transported to the European Space Agency’s ESTEC test center in the Netherlands. There, she will undergo a campaign of environmental testing as part of her flight readiness checks.
The spacecraft is scheduled to launch from Cape Canaveral in October 2024 aboard a SpaceX spacecraft Falcon 9 rocket. Hera will reach Dimorphos in late 2026, four years after DART hit Earth. asteroid moon.
HERA was intended to watch and evaluate the impact of DART in real time, but it has been hit with delays. the LICIAcube Cubesat intervened at short notice to provide the initial post-collision phase Notes instead of.
HERA will use a lidar (“light detection and ranging”) sensor, an optical camera and a thermal camera that detects asteroid composition to survey the asteroid system. A pair of com. cubesats, called Juventus and Milani, will join Hera. The former will carry a small one radar payload to offer a glimpse inside Dimorphos, while Melanie will observe the surfaces of the two rocks using near infrared.
While Hera has finally come together, space observations have shown the extent of Dimorphus’ disintegration after NASA’s high-speed intervention. Notes from Hubble Space Telescopefor example, reveals that the kinetic effect unleashed by A chaotic cloud of rocks.