ESA Awards Contract for Hera Planetary Defense Mission

ESA’s Hera mission for planetary defence seen approaching the Dimorphos asteroid moonlet. (Credit: OHB)

PARIS, 15 September 2020 (ESA PR) — Today ESA awarded a €129.4 million contract covering the detailed design, manufacturing and testing of Hera, the Agency’s first mission for planetary defence. This ambitious mission will be Europe’s contribution to an international asteroid deflection effort, set to perform sustained exploration of a double asteroid system.

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ESA, GomSpace Sign Contract for Juventas CubeSat in Support of Hera Mission

Juventas CubeSat (Credit: ESA/GomSpace)

LUXEMBOURG (GomSpace PR) — GomSpace Luxembourg SARL and the European Space Agency (ESA), today signed a contract to continue development and implementation of the Juventas CubeSat in support of the Hera mission.

The contract value is approximately EUR 11,000,000, focused on delivery of the Juventas spacecraft and its associated payloads for launch with Hera in 2024. The amount will be divided between several partners, whereof GomSpace share is about EUR 6,100,000.

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ESA Awards OHB Contracts for Copernicus Missions

Sentinel-6/Jason-CS will map up to 95% of Earth’s ice-free ocean every 10 days in order to monitor sea level variability. (Credit: ESA/ATG medialab)

BREMEN, Germany (OHB System PR) — OHB System AG, a subsidiary of Bremen-based space and technology group OHB SE (Prime Standard, ISIN DE0005936124), has been selected by the European Space Agency ESA as the prime contractor for the CO2M mission (CO2 Monitoring Mission in the Copernicus program).

This mission includes the Copernicus satellites, which will measure global anthropogenic CO2 emissions and thus play a key role in studying the causes of climate change and monitoring it.

OHB System and OHB Italia will also be responsible for the payload on two further missions (CHIME: Copernicus Hyperspectral Imaging Mission for the Environment and CIMR: Copernicus Imaging Microwave Radiometer) as subcontractors of Thales Alenia Space.

The order volume resulting from today’s bid decisions is expected to be more than EUR 800 million [$900 million]. Final contract negotiations will start shortly and contract signings are expected in the coming weeks.

Copernicus is a satellite Earth observation program of the European Commission and the European Space Agency ESA. It provides Earth observation data for environmental protection, climate monitoring, natural disaster assessment and other social tasks.

In addition, ESA’s Industrial Policy Committee (IPC) has approved OHB System’s proposal for the HERA asteroid defense mission for final negotiations. Implementation of the HERA mission has already commenced. The contract is expected to be worth around EUR 130 million [$146 million].

Hera and its Asteroid Target

ESA’s Hera mission for planetary defence seen approaching the Dimorphos asteroid moonlet. (Credit: OHB)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA’s Hera mission for planetary defence seen approaching the Dimorphos asteroid moonlet, which is destined to become the subject of an audacious deflection experiment.

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NASA’s First Planetary Defense Mission Target Gets a New Name

DART mission profile (Credit: NASA)

LAUREL, Md. (NASA PR) — Nearly two decades ago, a near-Earth asteroid was discovered to have a moon and the binary system was given the name “Didymos”—Greek for “twin,” a loose description of the larger main body and the smaller orbiting moon, which became unofficially known as Didymos B. 

In 2022, that moon will be the target of NASA’s Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART), the first full-scale demonstration of an asteroid deflection technology for planetary defense. The DART spacecraft will execute a kinetic impact, deliberately crashing into the asteroid to change its motion in space. To mark this historic mission, Didymos B is getting an official name of its own: Dimorphos.

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Queen’s Brian May Works to Probe Origin of Asteroids

Brian May (Credit: ESA)

NICE, France (ESA PR) — Queen guitarist and astrophysicist Brian May has teamed up with asteroid researchers to investigate striking similarities and a puzzling difference between separate bodies explored by space probes. The research team ran a supercomputer-based ‘fight club’ involving simulated large asteroid collisions to probe the objects’ likely origins. Their work is reported in Nature Communications.  

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DART Mission To Deflect Asteroid Moves Toward Early 2022 Launch

DART mission (Credit: Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory)

by Douglas Messier
Managing Editor

NASA’s planetary defense mission to deflect a small asteroid continues to move toward a February 2022 launch date while holding to its $313.9 million budget, according to a new assessment by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

The Double Asteroid Redirection Test (DART) will fly to the binary asteroid Didymos and impact the smaller of the two bodies to assess techniques for deflecting dangerous asteroids on collision courses with Earth.

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Seeing Asteroids in the Dark

A test of the automated navigation system being developed for ESA’s Hera mission. A space-grade camera is imaging a model binary asteroid system in dark conditions representative of deep space illumination. (Credit: GMV)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Hera – named after the Greek goddess of marriage – will be humankind’s first probe to rendezvous with a binary asteroid system, a little understood class making up around 15% of all known asteroids.

NASA will first perform a kinetic impact on the smaller of the two Didymos asteroids, then Hera will follow-up with a detailed post-impact survey will turn this grand-scale experiment into a well-understood and repeatable planetary defence technique. Being able to deflect the orbit of an incoming body in this way could one day help prevent a devastating strike on Earth.

This ‘hardware-in-the-loop’ testing is being performed by GMV in Spain, responsible for developing the Hera mission’s guidance, navigation and control system.

Lunar Gateway: Earth’s Guard Post Against Asteroids?

The Gateway concept (Credit: NASA/ESA)

PARIS (ESA PR) — Humankind’s next space outpost, the lunar Gateway, will serve as a staging point to reach the surface of the Moon. A new ESA-backed study is considering whether it could also be used as a deployment point for planetary defence missions, to intercept asteroids approaching dangerously close to Earth.

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ESA and EDA Joint Research: Advancing into the Unknown

Hera deploying its two CubeSats. (Credit: ESA – Science Office)

PARIS (ESA PR) — ESA and the European Defence Agency (EDA) are embarking on new cooperative projects for exploring unknown or potentially hazardous environments: harnessing drones for the monitoring of disaster-stricken regions or toxic spill sites and making use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to navigate across the surface of asteroids or other terra incognita.

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Germany Invests 3.3 Billion Euros in European Space Exploration, Becomes ESA’s Largest Contributor

  • Three years after the last ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level, held in Lucerne, Switzerland, government representatives from the 22 Member States met in Seville, Spain, on 27 and 28 November 2019 and committed a total of almost 14.4 billion euro [$15.87 billion] for space programmes over the next few years.
  • Germany is contributing 3.3 billion euro [$3.6 billion] to ESA programmes focusing on Earth observation, telecommunications, technological advancement and commercialisation / NewSpace.
  • At 22.9 percent, Germany is now ESA’s largest contributor, followed by France (18.5 percent, 2.66 billion euro), Italy (15.9 percent, 2.28 billion euro) and the United Kingdom (11.5 percent, 1.65 billion euro).
  • The ESA Council Meeting at Ministerial Level is the highest political decision-making body, and it defines the content and financial framework for ESA’s space programmes every two to three years.
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Ministers Approve ESA’s Hera Asteroid Mission

SEVILLE, Spain (ESA PR) — Europe’s space ministers gathered at Space19+ in Seville, Spain in November 2019 have approved ESA’s Hera asteroid mission for construction and launch, as part of the Agency’s broader planetary defence initiatives that aim to protect European and world citizens.

Hera will be humanity’s first-ever spacecraft to visit a double asteroid, the Didymos binary system. First, NASA will crash its DART spacecraft into the smaller asteroid – known as Didymoon – before ESA’s Hera comes in to map the resulting impact crater and measure the asteroid’s mass.

Hera will carry two CubeSats on board, which will be able to fly much closer to the asteroid’s surface, carrying out crucial scientific studies, before touching down. Hera’s up-close observations will turn asteroid deflection into a well-understood planetary defence technique.

Italy Boosts Contribution to ESA Budget

SEVILLE, Spain (ASI PR) — In Seville, Spain, the institutional representatives and heads of the countries that make up the European Space Agency (ESA) have set the course towards new spatial horizons in the coming years. The share of the Italian contribution rises, while Samantha Cristoforetti will return to orbit.

An increase of almost one billion euros [$1.1 billion] compared to the previous Ministerial is what the Italian delegation to the ESA Ministerial Council 2019 has destined as a contribution of our country to the budget of the ESA for the next three to four years. 

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ESA Ministers Commit to Biggest Ever Budget of $15.84 Billion

Credit: ESA

Ministers approved funding lunar Gateway, space station operations until 2030, Mars Sample Return and Hera asteroid missions

SEVILLE, Spain (ESA PR) — ESA’s Council at Ministerial Level, Space19+, has concluded in Seville, Spain, with the endorsement of the most ambitious plan to date for the future of ESA and the whole European space sector. The meeting brought together ministers with responsibility for space activities in Europe, along with Canada and observers from the EU.

The Member States were asked to approve a comprehensive set of programmes to secure Europe’s independent access to and use of space in the 2020s, boost Europe’s growing space economy, and make breakthrough discoveries about Earth, our Solar System and the Universe beyond, all the while making the responsible choice to strengthen the efforts we are making to secure and protect our planet.

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