Astronauts and Experts to Celebrate Asteroid Day LIVE on Thursday, June 30

This mosaic of Bennu was created using observations made by NASA’s OSIRIS-REx spacecraft that was in close proximity to the asteroid for over two years. (Credits: NASA/Goddard/University of Arizona)

LUXEMBOURG, 21 June 2021 (Asteroid Foundation PR) – The Asteroid Foundation’s annual Asteroid Day LIVE programme returns in person Thursday 30 June 2022 at 11:00 CET [5 a.m. EDT/09:00 UTC]. After two years as a digital event, astronauts, experts and science communicators from across the world will again converge on Luxembourg to discuss the importance of asteroid research, missions, and advances in space-based technologies. The four-hour-long programme will vividly bring the solar system’s smallest worlds to life for audiences of all ages and backgrounds.

Asteroid Day LIVE 2022 will be built around seven panel discussions that will tell the full story of asteroids; from the formation of the Solar System, 4.6 billion years ago, to the scientific work taking place today, and our future prospects as we begin to imagine ways to utilise the resources asteroids contain.

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Tyvak International, a Terran Orbital Company, Completes Critical Design Review of Deep Space Bound Milani Satellite

The nanosatellite will support the European Space Agency’s Hera Mission

Milani scans Didymos (Image Credit: ESA / Science Office)

TURIN, Italy (Terran Orbital Corporation PR) — Terran Orbital Corporation (NYSE: LLAP), a global leader in satellite solutions, primarily serving the aerospace and defense industries, today announced its wholly-owned subsidiary, Tyvak International SRL, has together with its partners, achieved full Critical Design Review of the Milani spacecraft. A critical component of the Hera planetary defense mission, Milani will be the European Space Agency’s (ESA) first deep-space nanosatellite. Milani will also be the first nanosatellite ever to orbit an asteroid. Tyvak International is responsible for Milani’s design, build, and mission operations. In this exploration, Tyvak International is joined by an excellent consortium of European industries and research centers from Finland, Czech Republic, and Italy.

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Europe’s Hera Asteroid Mission’s Takes a Major Step

Hera spacecraft propulsion module (Credit: OHB)

PARIS (ESA PR) — A key element of ESA’s Hera mission for planetary defence has left the facilities of its manufacturer OHB in Bremen – a major step in preparation for its eventual odyssey to the Didymos asteroid system.

The mission’s Propulsion Module flight model, seen here, has been delivered to Avio, southeast of Rome, where propellant tanks, thrusters and associated pipes and valves will be integrated with it. The fully equipped Propulsion Module is what will take Hera on its 26-month trek through deep space to the main Didymos asteroid and its smaller Dimorphos companion.

On 26 September this year Dimorphos will become the very first Solar System body to have its orbit altered by human action in a measurable way, when NASA’s DART spacecraft impacts with it. When Hera arrives at the asteroid in December 2026 the spacecraft will perform a detailed post-crash investigation, assessing the mass and make-up of Dimorphos and measuring the crater left by DART’s impact, helping to validate kinetic impact as a workable planetary defence method.

Meanwhile Hera’s other half, the Core Module, is also taking shape at OHB in Bremen. The Core Module will carry all the mission’s scientific instruments as well as on-board computer and other subsystems. The spacecraft will be completed when these two halves are eventually joined together, ahead of Hera’s planned launch in October 2024.

Small Spacecraft Electric Propulsion Opens New Deep Space Opportunities

An image of Northrop Grumman’s small electric propulsion thruster first light during testing at NASA Glenn Research Center’s Electric Power and Propulsion Laboratory. (Credits: Northrop Grumman)

CLEVELAND (NASA PR) — The path to the Moon, Mars, and beyond will require a fleet of spacecraft in many different shapes and sizes, including everything from massive rockets that produce millions of pounds of thrust to pioneering small electric propulsion thrusters that fit in the palm of your hand.

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Report Identifies Priority Planetary Science Missions, Planetary Defense Efforts, and Strategic Investments for the Next Decade

WASHINGTON (National Academies PR) — A new decadal survey from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine identifies scientific priorities and opportunities and makes funding recommendations to maximize the advancement of planetary science, astrobiology, and planetary defense in the next 10 years.

The recommendations by the steering committee for the decadal survey draw on input from the scientific community through the advice of six panels, hundreds of white papers, invited speakers, outreach to advisory groups and professional society conferences, and work with mission-design teams.

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NASA, FEMA, Other U.S. Partners Simulate Asteroid Impact Response

Credits: NASA

LAUREL, Md. (NASA PR) — This past month, NASA, FEMA, the United States Space Command, and other federal, state and local agencies convened for the fourth iteration of a Planetary Defense Interagency Tabletop Exercise to inform and assess our nation’s ability to respond effectively to a (simulated) asteroid impact threat to Earth. While there are no predicted asteroid impact threats to our planet for the foreseeable future, this exercise—sponsored by NASA and FEMA and hosted by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland—focused extensively on federal and state government coordination that would be necessary to respond to such a threat should one ever be discovered.

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NASA Asteroid Tracking System Now Capable of Full Sky Search

From left to right: Sutherland ATLAS station during construction in South Africa. Credit: Willie Koorts (SAAO); Chilean engineers and astronomers installing the ATLAS telescope at El Sauce Observatory. Credit: University of Hawaii; Illustration of NASA’s DART spacecraft and the Italian Space Agency’s (ASI) LICIACube prior to impact at the Didymos binary system. Credits: NASA/Johns Hopkins, APL/Steve Gribben; Illustration of the NEO Surveyor spacecraft.

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — The NASA-funded Asteroid Terrestrial-impact Last Alert System (ATLAS)—a state-of-the-art asteroid detection system operated by the University of Hawaiʻi (UH) Institute for Astronomy (IfA) for the agency’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office (PDCO)—has reached a new milestone by becoming the first survey capable of searching the entire dark sky every 24 hours for near-Earth objects (NEOs) that could pose a future impact hazard to Earth. Now comprised of four telescopes, ATLAS has expanded its reach to the southern hemisphere from the two existing northern-hemisphere telescopes on Haleakalā and Maunaloa in Hawai’i to include two additional observatories in South Africa and Chile. 

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NASA’s 2021 Achievements Included Mars Landing, First Flight, Artemis, More

WASHINGTON (NASA PR) — In 2021, NASA completed its busiest year of development yet in low-Earth orbit, made history on Mars, continued to make progress on its Artemis plans for the Moon, tested new technologies for a supersonic aircraft, finalized launch preparations for the next-generation space telescope, and much more – all while safely operating during a pandemic and welcoming new leadership under the Biden-Harris Administration.

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NASA Goddard Helps Ensure Asteroid Deflector Hits Target, Predicts and Will Observe Impact Results

Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) spacecraft at Didymos. (Credit: NASA)

GREENBELT, Md. (NASA PR) — Although the chance of an asteroid impacting Earth is small, even a relatively small asteroid of about 500 feet (about 150 meters) across carries enough energy to cause widespread damage around the impact site. NASA leads efforts in the U.S. and worldwide both to detect and track potentially hazardous asteroids and to study technologies to mitigate or avoid impacts on Earth. If an asteroid were discovered and determined to be on a collision course with Earth, one response could be to launch a “kinetic impactor” – a high-velocity spacecraft that would deflect the asteroid by ramming into it, altering the asteroid’s orbit slightly so that it misses Earth. NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) will be the first mission to demonstrate asteroid deflection using a kinetic impactor. 

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Spanish Astrobiology Center Participates in DART and Hera Planetary Defense Missions

DART mission (Credit: Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory)

MADRID (Spanish Astrobiology Center) — Currently the Astrobiology Center (CAB, CSIC-INTA) is an integral part of the joint space mission of NASA and ESA called DART-Hera. Its objective consists of sending two spacecraft to a binary asteroid system known as Didymos 65803 and thus validating the impact techniques in order to avoid future collisions with potentially dangerous asteroids for our planet.

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Planetary Defense: Italy’s LICIACube Flies with DART Toward a Collision with an Asteroid

LICIACube (Credit: Argotec)

The journey into deep space of the satellite of the Italian Space Agency’s LICIACube satellite has begun.

ROME (ASI PR) — The first planetary defense mission of NASA DART, which carries the LICIACube satellite built by Argotec, in collaboration and with the contribution of the Italian Space Agency (ASI), was launched as scheduled on Nov. 24 at 07.21 Italian time from Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

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Planetary Defenders: After NASA’s DART Comes ESA’s Hera Mission

NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirect Test, DART, mission is intended to collide with the smaller of two bodies of the Didymos binary asteroid system in autumn 2022. ESA’s Hera mission will then perform follow-up post-impact observations. (Credit: ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — The world will be watching the milestone launch of NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test, DART, spacecraft on Wednesday, 24 November, intended to alter one small part of the Solar System forever.

DART will collide with the small moon of an asteroid in order to shift its orbit around its parent body – to test the concept of diverting threatening objects away from Earth.

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NASA, SpaceX Launch DART: First Test Mission to Defend Planet Earth

The SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket launches with the Double Asteroid Redirection Test, or DART, spacecraft onboard, Tuesday, Nov. 23, 2021, Pacific time (Nov. 24 Eastern time) from Space Launch Complex 4E at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California. DART is the world’s first full-scale planetary defense test, demonstrating one method of asteroid deflection technology. The mission was built and is managed by Johns Hopkins APL for NASA’s Planetary Defense Coordination Office. (Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls)

VANDENBERG SPACE FORCE BASE, Calif. (NASA PR) — NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the world’s first full-scale mission to test technology for defending Earth against potential asteroid or comet hazards, launched Wednesday at 1:21 a.m. EST on a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Space Launch Complex 4 East at Vandenberg Space Force Base in California.

Just one part of NASA’s larger planetary defense strategy, DART – built and managed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL) in Laurel, Maryland – will impact a known asteroid that is not a threat to Earth. Its goal is to slightly change the asteroid’s motion in a way that can be accurately measured using ground-based telescopes.

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DART on Target – Six Questions with Mission Manager Clayton Kachele

DART mission (Credit: Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory)

Editor’s Note: DART is scheduled to launch from Vandenberg on Nov. 23 at 10:21 p.m. PST (Nov. 24 at 1:21 a.m. EST). NASA will stream the launch live on its website. 

By Wayne Smith
NASA Marshall Space Flight Center

It sounds like a plot for a movie but protecting Earth from a potential impact by a hazardous asteroid is the objective of an upcoming NASA mission.

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) mission is a planetary defense-driven test of technologies for mitigating such a threat. DART’s target asteroid is not a threat to Earth. The DART spacecraft launch window opens Nov. 24. It will launch aboard a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.

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Testing Mini-radar to Peer Inside an Asteroid

Juventas CubeSat undergoing tests at ESTEC in The Netherlands. (Credit: ESA-P. de Maagt)

NOORDWIJK, The Netherlands (ESA PR) — A specially upgraded radio-frequency chamber in ESA’s technical heart is testing what is set to become the smallest radar system to be flown in space, hosted aboard a breadbox-sized spacecraft.

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