I am asking you some questions. Think an answer to that. It is, what are the components or the objects in the sky? You seem that it is straightforward. Yes, it is. There are clouds in the day time the sun, at night the moon and the stars can be seen. It is correct. Then there is another question. It is, what are the objects that you can see in the space? This is somewhat difficult because we know the objects in the space, but we can’t see them with our naked eye. There are some planets and meteors that can be seen with the naked eye, but we can’t differentiate we see them. To that purpose, a telescope can be used.
Today my topic is not about the telescopes but about a recent asteroid mission. As I told above, there are many objects in outer space that we can’t see. Scientists are making various plans, projects, and the spacecraft to fulfil that task as well as that there is a specific class that is working hard to fulfil their achievement. Today I’d like to tell you about such a company and a recent mission by them. The main target of this mission is to investigate about the asteroids.
I know that you have heard about asteroids. But before the start, I would like to give you a brief explanation about the asteroids.
What are asteroids?
Now you can recall your knowledge about asteroids. Asteroids are known as the minor planets usually because they are smaller in size than the planets. But there are some large asteroids too. They are known as the planetoids. These can be coming from the asteroid belt as similar to the comets asteroids are volatile-rich components. There are about millions of asteroids, but they are uncountable. There are many asteroids in the belt between the orbit and Jupiter.
It is the ever investigated vast amount of asteroids. There are three types of asteroids that according to their characteristics. They are as C type, M type and S type. Here the C type for carbon-rich, M is for metallic and S is for silicate composition.
I know that you have thought the asteroids, comets and meteors are similar. But asteroids have totally differed from meteors and comets. What is the difference? Can you guess that? Asteroids are mainly formed with the minerals and the rocks but the comet’s dust and the ice. And the difference between the asteroid and the meteorite is the size. Meteorites can be made up of the materials of the asteroids.
I told you about the basic details of an asteroid. Now for more explanation, I’ll tell you about an example for an asteroid. It is for four vistas.
This can be observed with our naked eye in the dark sky. The truth is sometimes we can see the asteroids that passing through the earth, but it is visible if we clearly observed them. This has a reflective surface.
Do you know that the 30th of June is International Asteroid Day? This was by the united nations. This day is allocating for the study about the asteroids.
Now we will focus our attention on the asteroid mission. The designer of this programme is ESA. ESA for Europian Space Agency. I think before moving to the mission, it is suitable to talk about the European Space Agency. This is formed on the 30th of May 1975. The programs by European Space Agency are human space flight, explorations to the sun, moon and outer space orbits. There are some branches under the European Space Agency. Some of them are European Space Astronomy Centre, European Center for Space Application and Telecommunication, European Astronaut Centre.
European Space Agency is not working alone. It had cooperation with others too. European Space Agency has cooperated with other countries and the other space agencies as well. This Agency had signed the agreements with the other countries by cooperating with them. India, Russia, Turkey, Brazil, Argentina and China are some of them. In other than that the NASA, Chinese space agency, Russian space agency are some space agencies that cooperated with the European Space Agency.
As I told you about this Agency succeed in making different kinds of launchings, spacecraft and the crew vehicles. Ariane 5, Vega and Soyuz 2 are some major rocket designs by the EU space agency. Now I think I told you more details about the background of this project. Now we can move to the project. I didn’t tell you the name of the project earlier. It is the hera asteroid mission.
Hera asteroid mission
You can know what is the idea about through the topic itself. This is to investigate about the asteroids. Now we can see the project.
This is also known as AIDA. AIDA for Asteroid Impact and Deflection Assessment. The main goal of this project is” to test and validate impact models of whether a spacecraft could successfully deflect an asteroid on a collision with the earth. “
This is a dual asteroid probe mission. Initially, AIM proposes to this mission, but later the designing team replaced AIM with the Hera. AIM is for the Asteroid Impact Mission. This was replaced by the Hera because of the high cost. After launching Hera to space, it will go to its destination after eight years. Europa’s space ministers had taken the decision that this spacecraft launched in November 2019. DART is planned to impact on the moon of Didymos. Didymos is a small asteroid? DART is impacting on the moon of Didymos in 2022. Then after the five years, Hera would arrive at the Didymos about in 2027.
I told you about the Hera and the DART. I know that you aren’t familiar with that word. Therefore now we will discuss those things.
This will supply the details about Didymos to the earth. Details are the volume and the properties of its surface in other than that it will measure the impact by DART creator. There are miniaturised lidar, two 6U CubeSats and the cameras included in this. There are specific usages of the above-mentioned instruments. They are as follows.
- Lidar laser altimeter – observe the shapes of two bodies
- Asteroid framing camera – to get the information about physical features of an asteroid
- 6 unit CubeSat – for the spectral imaging and the magnetic observations.
There are thermal imager, optional impactor and the Juventas 6U CubeSat are the other payloads in it.
This above description is about the Hera. Now we can see about the DART.
DART is for Double Asteroid Redirection Test. This has a mass of about 500kg. There is a 20cm aperture CCD camera for this. There is no any other payload than this camera. This CCD camera is to support autonomous guiding to impact the target object.
I told you above that this project targeted at the Didymos. Now we will see about their plan.
Actually, it is not about the asteroid but the moon of the asteroid. This asteroid has a diameter of about 800 meters. The diameter of the moon of Didymos is 150 metres. This is not a type of earth crossing asteroid. First of all, scientists decide to launch DART first and then Hera. But later they thought about the scientific outcome. Then they decided to launch Hera first and then DART to maximise the scientific outcome.
Finally, you have to know some more about the AIDA. AIDA is not an alone mission as I told above. To this mission European Space Agency, German Aerospace Centre, Nasa, Côte d’Azur laboratory had participated. Then I think they finished that project successfully in the future. They have more knowledge to do something new in the future too.