NASA and ESA plan to land a probe on a near-Earth asteroid

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NASA and ESA’s space experts have found a double asteroid located relatively close to Earth. Both space agencies have put together a program which has the goal to find a way to deflect the smaller asteroid off its orbiting trajectory.

The main object of the double asteroid is known as Didymos, and the smaller one has been dubbed Didymoon. The set is depicted by ESA as a mountain in the skies with another rock which reaches the ​size of the Great Pyramid, orbiting close to it. ESA announced that the small moon could, in fact, destroy an entire city.

European space agencies are planning to back the HERA program, the first mission of this kind, which will orbit a double asteroid system. The mission intends to dispatch two smaller CubeSats to one of the rocks, in a trial which will make the scientists understand how to deviate the space rock.

Didymos is at the moment about 427 million kilometers (265 million miles) away from Earth, with a diameter of 775 meters, and the smaller space rock being 160 meters wide. The Hera project is exceptionally ambitious and intricate.

ESA explained that Hera would help them figure out a way to deflect the asteroid, so it won’t collapse with the Earth. NASA will send its DART spacecraft to crash into Didymoon, the smaller space rock, before ESA’s Hera will figure out the results of the impact and calculate the asteroid’s entire mass.

Hera will transport two CubeSats, which will fly much closer to the space rock’s surface, conducting significant scientific studies, before landing.

Dydimos is a sub-kilometer asteroid and synchronous binary system, labeled as a probably dangerous asteroid and a near-Earth object. The larger asteroid, Dydimos, has a smaller asteroid, a ‘moon,’ orbiting it. The asteroid’s name comes from Greek, and it means ‘twin.’

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