Asteroid (Represenatational Image, Photo Credit: Twitter)
Millions of asteroids exist in space. Major asteroids are no harm to us, but few can be. We all are well aware with the fact that asteroids, if hit Earth, can bring massive destruction to the Earth and humans of course. In recent times, we have heard of many asteroids going past to Earth, fortunately they didn’t hit our planet. Are we going to be fortunate every time?
It is worth mentioning here that there are many asteroids including Bennu, 2010 RF12, Apophis and 1979 XB will be approaching towards Earth in near-future and we cannot say if one amongst them hit the Earth. In this case, what should we do? Should we destroy the asteroids approaching towards Earth?
The European Space Agency (ESA) has developed a self-driving spacecraft which can destroy asteroids approaching towards the Earth. Yes, you read it right. In the future, if the earth is threatened by asteroid collision then it can be prevented by self-driving spacecraft, called ‘Hera’.
According to a report published in Ace Newz, Hera will be used in planetary defence mission that would visit ‘65803 Didymos’ asteroid of 2550 feet wide and its tiny satellite of 525 feet object which is nicknamed ‘Didymoon’.
ESA is providing a built-in automatic navigation system, to steer itself in real time instead of waiting for human signals from earth. Currently, it is underdevelopment and will be presented to European ministers in November 2019, the Ace Newz reported.
Paolo Martino, lead system engineer of Hera mission, said, “If you think self-driving cars are the future on Earth, then Hera is the pioneer of autonomy in deep space.” “While the mission is designed to be fully operated manually from the ground, the new technology will be tested once the core mission objectives are achieved and higher risks can be taken,” he added.
It is to be noted that Hera’s job is to collect information from nearby objects by using sensors that will be used to build surroundings. With the information provided by Hera, the spacecraft will able to plot a safe course around objects allowing it to navigate as close as 200 meters to the surface of an asteroid.
The inputs will be collected with Asteroid Framing Camera, laser altimeter, thermal infrared camera, star tracer and an inertial sensor including accelerometers. The main objective of Hera is to intercept the asteroid and gather information about their structure, composition, and how would they behave in case of kinetic impact.
Importantly, the development of Hera is part of ESA’s Asteroid Impact & Deflection assistant which aims to protect Earth from threats from the sky.