The European Space Agency (ESA) has announced its upcoming Hera mission. The mission aims to follow up on the success of NASA’s DART mission. On September 26, 2022, the NASA DART team changed the orbit of an asteroid named Dimorphos. They did this using the DART spacecraft through a kinetic impact. This marked a significant milestone in asteroid deflection technology. NASA confirmed that the mission impact changed the asteroid’s motion in space. Debris blasted from the surface of Dimorphos was observed by NASA’s Hubble Space Telescope on October 8, 2022. ESA Hera mission aims to measure the impact of the DART mission on Dimorphos, enabling scientists to better understand how to protect Earth from potentially harmful asteroids. Additionally, it will help advocate for more planetary defense missions in the future.

Before we go any further, we should know,

Hera Mission Overview:

The Hera mission has a budget of €6 billion. The launch will be on October 2024 and will use an Ariane 6.4 launcher, with a Falcon 9 launcher as a backup. The spacecraft will perform a deep-space maneuver 2-3 weeks after launch. It will then fly by Mars in March 2025 at an altitude of 5000-8000 km before heading towards Didymos. There is also the possibility of an asteroid flyby during the cruise phase. Upon arrival at Didymos, Hera will also perform a capture sequence consisting of five maneuvers. This is expected to occur in January or early February 2027, with backup opportunities available in 2025 and also 2026. The arrival at Didymos will result in late 2030 or early 2031.

Hera Spacecraft

Five phases:

The Hera mission will consist of five phases after it reaches Didymos.  The first phase is the Early Characterization Phase, which will take six weeks and focus on determining the global shape, mass/gravity, thermal, and dynamical properties of both asteroids. The next phase is the Payload Deployment Phase, which will center on releasing the two CubeSats and supporting their early operations.

Moreover, the Detailed Characterization Phase comes first and lasts four weeks. In this phase, Hera and its CubeSats will map asteroids at a meter-scale and determine their thermal, spectral, and interior properties through measurements.

The fourth phase is the Close Observation Phase, which lasts six weeks. This phase allows for high-resolution investigations of a large fraction of the surface area of Dimorphos, including the DART impact crater. This will be accomplished through 12 close flybys, with a pericenter distance of 4 km. The final phase is the Experimental Phase, which lasts six weeks. This phase will demonstrate innovative navigation techniques to achieve flybys at lower altitudes, down to 1 km or less. The goal is to enhance the resolution of Dimorphos’ morphological, spectral, and thermal properties, specifically in selected targets such as the DART impact crater, to the level of decimeters.

The Hera spacecraft will land on Didymos, providing high-resolution data on the primary in the process, marking the end of the mission.

Hera Phases

Now, let’s find out the,

What are the objectives of the Hera mission?

The European Space Agency’s (ESA) Space Safety Program is developing the Hera mission, scheduled for launch in October 2024, with the primary goal of exploring a binary asteroid starting in December 2026, as part of a planetary defense mission. The Hera mission will provide valuable insights into asteroid science. Moreover, it will help in improving our understanding of the asteroid impact threat mitigation, mining, and scientific purposes. It aims to investigate the subsurface and also interior properties of the binary asteroid and measure the outcome of a kinetic impactor test, which will provide valuable information for asteroid impact threat mitigation, mining, and scientific purposes. The Hera mission is based on the previous Asteroid Impact Mission (AIM) concept and will contribute substantially to asteroid science.

Hera will characterize the first binary near-Earth asteroid. It will constrain the surface structure and regolith mobility on both Didymos and Dimorphos. This mission offers a unique opportunity to study the surface geophysics of two objects of different sizes and surface gravity. Regarding the deflection demonstration, Hera has several goals. These include determining Dimorphos’ mass to assess the momentum transfer efficiency from DART’s impact. It also involves studying the resulting crater to enhance our knowledge of the cratering mechanism. Additionally, Hera will examine both the exterior and interior of Dimorphos to enable scaling of the momentum transfer efficiency to other asteroids.

So, now let’s dig into the construction and features of,

Hera Spacecraft:

The Hera spacecraft is set to be equipped with advanced technology that will enable it to navigate safely through the double-asteroid system. Moreover, the spacecraft will utilize automated guidance, navigation, and control systems, which function like self-driving cars. The body of the spacecraft will be desk-sized and house a variety of instruments, including an optical Asteroid Framing Camera. Additionally, it will have thermal and spectral imagers, as well as a laser altimeter that will aid in surface mapping.

The Hera spacecraft consists of three spacecraft, which includes two CubeSats that are as small as shoeboxes, and will be transported near Dimorphos. One of the CubeSats, called Juventas, will carry out an extraordinary radar investigation of the asteroid’s internal structure. Juventas will also have instruments like a gravimeter and an accelerometer to measure the asteroid’s weak gravitational pull and its response to outside forces. Milani, the second CubeSat, will perform near-infrared spectral imaging and collect dust samples from asteroids. Through an innovative inter-satellite link system, the CubeSat duo will maintain communication with both their Hera mother craft and each other. This arrangement will provide valuable insights into managing multiple spacecraft in the unusual near-weightless environment. Ultimately, the CubeSats will land on Dimorphos.

Hera spacecraft
An illustration of ESA’s proposed Hera spacecraft scanning the moon of the asteroid Didymos with a lidar instrument. Credit: ESA

The Hera mission will provide significant knowledge about the makeup and arrangement of the binary asteroid system. With these advanced features, scientists hope to better understand how to defend against potentially hazardous asteroids.

So let’s sum up the whole mission in a short,


On the whole, ESA’s Hera mission is a crucial step in better understanding how to protect Earth from potentially harmful asteroids. In October 2024, the mission will explore a binary asteroid and measure the impact of NASA’s DART mission. The spacecraft’s advanced technology will allow scientists to study the binary asteroid’s subsurface and interior properties. Additionally, the mission will perform the first comprehensive characterization of a binary near-Earth asteroid, which will contribute substantially to asteroid science.


Published by: Sky Headlines

Space experts are warning that an asteroid named 2023 DW, could collide with Earth on Valentine’s Day in 2046. The 50-meter-wide asteroid was discovered by the European Space Agency on February 26, 2023. It is expected to take over two decades to reach Earth, possibly even three.

The asteroid has been added to the “risk list,” which documents objects in space that could potentially impact Earth. According to NASA’s Center for Near Earth Objects, the asteroid poses no unusual level of danger. And the chance of collision is currently extremely unlikely. However, 2023 DW is the only object on the list with a ranking higher than zero on the Torino Scale, which rates space objects’ risk of colliding with Earth.

Valentine's Day 2046
Captured by Nasa’s Lucy spacecraft. Photograph: NASA/Goddard/ZUMA Press Wire Service/REX/Shutterstock

However, we need to know,

What do scientists say about this event?

Italian astronomer Piero Sicoli has predicted a 1 in 400 chance of 2023 DW hitting Earth and has even developed a map indicating where the asteroid could potentially strike. Despite this, the planetary defense coordination office at NASA states that the risk of collision with Earth is currently very small.

Davide Farnocchia is a navigation engineer at the JPL in Pasadena, California. He says: “This object is not particularly concerning,”

If the asteroid collided with Earth, it could cause catastrophic damage. With a diameter of 50 meters, the impact could be equivalent to a nuclear explosion. It resulted in widespread destruction and loss of life.

While the risk of collision is currently very low, scientists are constantly monitoring the asteroid’s trajectory and making updates to their predictions as new data becomes available.  Technology cannot rule out the possibility of a collision with Earth completely.

NASA said on its official Asteroid Watch account on Twitter: “We’ve been tracking a new asteroid named 2023 DW. It has a very small chance of impacting Earth in 2046″.  Moreover, NASA added: “Often when new objects are first discovered, it takes several weeks of data to reduce the uncertainties and adequately predict their orbits years into the future.”

If you are wondering,

Is this the first time an asteroid is going to collide with Earth?

It’s important to note that the Solar System is indeed filled with millions of asteroids. Many of them come close to Earth regularly. Astronomers have been tracking near-Earth objects for decades, and are discovering new ones all the time.

Earlier this year, in January, astronomers observed one of the closest approaches by a known near-Earth object ever recorded. This object, called 2023 BU, was only the size of a box truck, but it came very close to Earth – closer than the distance between the Earth and the Moon. Astronomers only discovered it a week before its closest approach, highlighting the need for continued vigilance in tracking these objects.

In short, the specific asteroid 2023 DW that astronomers have predicted to impact Earth on Valentine’s Day 2046 is getting a lot of attention. It’s certainly not the first time an asteroid has come close to our planet.  Hence, it likely won’t be the last. Scientists and astronomers are constantly monitoring the skies for potential threats and working on developing technologies to mitigate the risk of an impact.

Hence, the question arises:

What are the efforts of scientists to Deflect Hazardous Asteroids?

In the meantime, researchers and space agencies are working on developing methods to deflect potentially hazardous asteroids away from Earth’s orbit. The consequences of a collision with an asteroid could be catastrophic, and we must continue to invest in this technology to protect our planet from future threats.

As Valentine’s Day 2046 approaches, the world will be watching closely as scientists track the trajectory of asteroid 2023 DW. The risk of collision is currently low. So, we must remain vigilant and prepared for any potential threats to our planet.

Here is a point to clear;

What is the role of DART’s mission?

While an asteroid’s impact may seem unlikely, scientists and professionals are creating tools and techniques to reduce the risk. The DART mission’s success implies we can prepare for near-Earth objects like asteroids with proper planning and preparation.

The Planetary Defense Coordination Office will decide if and when to take action if 2023 DW, the asteroid projected to crash Earth on Valentine’s Day 2046. The recently tested Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) impactor could be used to change an asteroid’s trajectory.

NASA’s DART mission successfully collided a spacecraft into an asteroid to adjust its trajectory, showing that scientists and professionals can prepare for potentially dangerous space rocks. Scientists have prepared for years to encounter an asteroid.

NASA announced DART’s success in October 2021. The DART mission changed its direction by crashing a spacecraft into a tiny asteroid, showing that such technologies may divert a dangerous asteroid.

Mr. Farnocchia said: “That’s the very reason why we flew that mission,”.He says, “and that mission was a spectacular success.”

So now let’s wrap this up:


NASA experts are warning of a potential hazard to Earth in 2046. As a 50-meter-wide asteroid named 2023, DW might collide with the planet on Valentine’s Day. While scientists are now considering the chance of collision extremely low. As astronomers have added asteroid to the “risk list” of objects in space that has the potential to impact Earth. This is the only object on the list with a Torino Scale ranking over zero. The effects of a collision with an asteroid could be devastating. Researchers and space agencies are working on creating means to deflect potentially harmful asteroids away from Earth’s orbit. Experts are now counting on NASA’s asteroid-punishing DART probe to deflect the asteroid.


Published by: Sky Headlines